The Project Gutenberg EBook of Mike, by P. G.

Wodehouse This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at Title: Mike Author: P. G. Wodehouse Release Date: June 15, 2004 [EBook #7423] Language: English *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MIKE ***

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LONDON 1909.


[Dedication] TO












CHAPTER I MIKE It was a morning in the middle of April, and the Jackson family were consequently breakfasting in comparative silence. The cricket season had not begun, and except during the cricket season they were in the habit of devoting their powerful minds at breakfast almost exclusively to the task of victualling against the labours of the day. In May, June, July, and August the silence was broken. The three grown-up Jacksons played regularly in first-class cricket, and there was always keen competition among their brothers and sisters for the copy of the _Sportsman_ which was to be found on the hall table with the letters. Whoever got it usually gloated over it in silence till urged wrathfully by the multitude to let them know what had happened; when it would appear that Joe had notched his seventh century, or that

Reggie had been run out when he was just getting set, or, as sometimes occurred, that that ass Frank had dropped Fry or Hayward in the slips before he had scored, with the result that the spared expert had made a couple of hundred and was still going strong. In such a case the criticisms of the family circle, particularly of the smaller Jackson sisters, were so breezy and unrestrained that Mrs. Jackson generally felt it necessary to apply the closure. Indeed, Marjory Jackson, aged fourteen, had on three several occasions been fined pudding at lunch for her caustic comments on the batting of her brother Reggie in important fixtures. Cricket was a tradition in the family, and the ladies, unable to their sorrow to play the game themselves, were resolved that it should not be their fault if the standard was not kept up. On this particular morning silence reigned. A deep gasp from some small Jackson, wrestling with bread-and-milk, and an occasional remark from Mr. Jackson on the letters he was reading, alone broke it. "Mike's late again," said Mrs. Jackson plaintively, at last. "He's getting up," and he was asleep. a sponge over him. tried to catch me, "Marjory!" "Well, he was on his back with his mouth wide open. I had to. He was snoring like anything." "You might have choked him." "I did," said Marjory with satisfaction. "Jam, please, Phyllis, you pig." Mr. Jackson looked up. "Mike will have to be more punctual when he goes to Wrykyn," he said. "Oh, father, is Mike going to Wrykyn?" asked Marjory. "When?" "Next term," said Mr. Jackson. "I've just heard from Mr. Wain," he added across the table to Mrs. Jackson. "The house is full, but he is turning a small room into an extra dormitory, so he can take Mike after all." The first comment on this momentous piece of news came from Bob Jackson. Bob was eighteen. The following term would be his last at Wrykyn, and, having won through so far without the infliction of a small brother, he disliked the prospect of not being allowed to finish as he had begun. "I say!" he said. "What?" "He ought to have gone before," said Mr. Jackson. "He's fifteen. Much too old for that private school. He has had it all his own way there, and it isn't good for him." "He's got cheek enough for ten," agreed Bob. said Marjory. "I went So," she added with a He swallowed an awful so he's certain to be in to see what he was doing, satanic chuckle, "I squeezed lot, and then he woke up, and down soon."

anyway. There was a sound of footsteps in the passage outside." Marjory bit off a section of her slice of bread-and-jam. The resemblance was even more marked on the cricket field. He was a pocket edition of his century-making brother. but preferred him at a distance. "You mustn't say 'I bet' so much. though lacking the brilliance of his elder brothers. "I bet he gets in before you." "Considering there are eight old colours left. In face. it's hardly likely that a kid like Mike'll get a look in. if he sweats. It softened the blow to a certain extent that Mike should be going to Wain's. He was fond of him in the abstract. Jackson intervened. Mike was her special ally." she said. The door opened." she muttered truculently through it. His third remark was of a practical nature. His figure was thin and wiry. She had rescued the jam from Phyllis. ." The aspersion stung Marjory. He had made the same remark nearly every morning since the beginning of the holidays. "Anyhow. He was a sound bat. whose appearance is familiar to every one who takes an interest in first-class cricket. Last year he had been tried once or twice. Marjory gave tongue again. Mike Jackson was tall for his age." she said. I bet he gets into the first eleven his first term. "besides heaps of last year's seconds. He was among those heaps of last year's seconds to whom he had referred. "Hullo. and was now at liberty to turn her mind to less pressing matters." was his reference to the sponge incident. he was curiously like his brother Joe. That's one comfort. who had shown signs of finishing it. and the missing member of the family appeared." he said. He might get his third. and he fancied that his cap was a certainty this season. "Go on with your breakfast." said Bob loftily." Bob was in Donaldson's. I bet he does. "All right. Mrs. This year it should be all right. "sorry I'm late. "Hooray! Mike's going to Wrykyn. Bob disdained to reply. His arms and legs looked a shade too long for his body."Wrykyn will do him a world of good. and anything that affected his fortunes affected her. Marjory." "We aren't in the same house. Marjory. He had the same feeling for Mike that most boys of eighteen have for their fifteen-year-old brothers." This was mere stereo. you little beast. He was evidently going to be very tall some day. Mike had Joe's batting style to the last detail.

having fixed him with a chilly stare for some seconds. in six-eight time. somebody. Whereat Gladys Maud. and his attitude towards the Jacksons was that of the Faithful Old Retainer in melodrama. you know. obliged with a solo of her own composition. father's just had a letter to say you're going to Wrykyn next term. you're going to Wrykyn next term. "Mike. Mike Wryke Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Mike Wryke. like Mike. "Mike's going to Wrykyn next term. sound article." From Ella. There was nothing the matter with Bob. It was a great moment. The strength could only come with years. put a green baize cloth over that kid. miss? I was thinking he would be soon. as follows: "Mike Wryky. Saunders would lie awake at night sometimes thinking of the possibilities that were in Mike. Saunders." "Do you think he'll get into the school team?" . Jackson--this again was stereo--"you really must learn to be more punctual----" He was interrupted by a chorus." she said. Mike was his special favourite. Mr. the professional. "Mike. Bob would be a Blue in his third or fourth year. ages ago." "Oh. and probably a creditable performer among the rank and file of a county team later on." "Is he. the eldest of the family. assisted by the gardener's boy. "Good." he said. In Bob he would turn out a good. "I say. aged three. Each of the boys in turn had passed from spectators to active participants in the net practice in the meadow. Joe's style." began Mr. "All the boys were there. He rose to it with the utmost dignity. but the style was there already. He felt that in him he had material of the finest order to work upon. with improvements. had been able to use a bat a man had come down from the Oval to teach him the best way to do so. So was father." groaned Bob. Mike and Marjory went off together to the meadow at the end of the garden." From Phyllis. Mike put on his pads. and Marjory walked with the professional to the bowling crease. For several years now Saunders had been the chosen man. suddenly drew a long breath. and every spring since Joe. Saunders. But he was not a cricket genius. Jackson believed in private coaching. you're going to Wrykyn. Mike Wryky. what's under that dish?" "Mike. "Mike. was engaged in putting up the net. and squealed deafeningly for more milk."I say. Gladys Maud Evangeline. what's under that dish?" * * * * * After breakfast." shouted Marjory. Mike looked round the table.

you get these young gentlemen of eighteen. Of Mike's style there could be no doubt. and it stands to reason they're stronger. I was only saying don't count on it."School team. I only hope that they won't knock all the style out of him before they're done with him." As Saunders had said. too. I'm not saying it mightn't be. To-day. miss. isn't he? He's better than Bob. miss. a sort of pageant. It would be a record if he did. "He hit that hard enough." "Ah. didn't he. "they'd have him in the team before you could say knife. it's this way. and that's where the runs come in. The whole thing is. Saunders? He's awfully good. Master Mike? Play. Going to a public school. so you won't be disappointed if it doesn't happen. as she returned the ball. Even Joe only got in after he'd been at school two years. perhaps. in a manner of speaking. "If he could keep on doing ones like that. it was all there. miss. Seem to think playing forward the alpha and omugger of batting." "But Mike's jolly strong. only all I say is don't count on it. Don't you think he might. miss! Master Mike get into a school team! He'll be playing for England in another eight years. CHAPTER II THE JOURNEY DOWN The seeing off of Mike on the last day of the holidays was an imposing spectacle. You know these school professionals. but then he can hit 'em harder when he does hit 'em. They aren't going to play Master Mike because he'll be in the England team when he leaves school." said the professional. doesn't know as much about what I call real playing as Master Mike's forgotten. there's too much of the come-right-out-at-everything about 'em for my taste. you see. miss. I don't. we'll hope for the best. miss. They'll give the cap to somebody that can make a few then and there. That's what he'll be playing for. Saunders?" she asked. "Well. He's got as much style as Mr. Saunders. and watched more hopefully. isn't he? And Bob's almost certain to get in this term." "Yes." Saunders looked a little doubtful. especially at . you see. Marjory had to run to the end of the meadow to fetch one straight drive. There's a young gentleman." "No. Joe's got. It's quite likely that it will. It's all there. What are they like?" "Well. with Master Mike. "Next term!" he said. Ready. They'll make him pat balls back to the bowler which he'd cut for twos and threes if he was left to himself." Marjory sat down again beside the net. every bit. but I meant next term. and nineteen perhaps. miss. Still. he was playing more strongly than usual.

because she had taken a sudden dislike to the village idiot. Opposite the door of Mike's compartment was standing a boy of about Mike's size. these Bocks weren't a patch on the old shaped Larranaga. It might be true that some day he would play for England. He was alone in the carriage. practising late cuts rather coyly with a walking-stick in the background. more particularly when the departing hero has a brother on the verge of the school eleven and three other brothers playing for counties. Donaldson's. Bob. He had a sharp face. and if he himself were likely to do anything at cricket. the village idiot. The train gathered speed. Uncle John said on second thoughts he wasn't sure these Bocks weren't half a bad smoke after all. Meanwhile. and the brothers were to make a state entry into Wrykyn together. and he was nothing special. and a pair of pince-nez gave him a supercilious look. a suitable gloom was the keynote of the gathering. Mothers. Jackson's anxious look lent a fine solemnity to the proceedings. Bob.) Among others present might have been noticed Saunders. Mr. He wondered what sort of a house Wain's was. He wore a bowler hat. however. Jackson seemed to bear the parting with fortitude. and his reflections. as did Mike's Uncle John (providentially roped in at the eleventh hour on his way to Scotland. He wondered if Bob would get his first eleven cap this year. in his opinion. though evidently some years older. He was excited. Gladys Maud Evangeline's nurse. who had been spending the last week of the holidays with an aunt further down the line. To their coarse-fibred minds there was nothing pathetic or tragic about the affair at all. by all accounts. frankly bored with the whole business. who had rolled up on the chance of a dole. and whether they had any chance of the cricket cup. there was Bob. but Bob had been so careful to point out his insignificance when compared with the humblest Wrykynian that the professional's glowing prophecies had not had much effect. And as Marjory. and made no exception to their rule on the present occasion. According to Bob they had no earthly. Marjory had faithfully reported every word Saunders had said on the subject. nor profound. and carried a small . in time to come down with a handsome tip). While he was engaged on these reflections. and Ella invariably broke down when the time of separation arrived. The latter were not numerous. and now the thing had come about. smiling vaguely. Phyllis. to the end of time will foster a secret fear that their sons will be bullied at a big school. was to board the train at East Wobsley. Mike was left to his milk chocolate. The air was full of last messages. and Mrs. (At the very moment when the train began to glide out of the station Uncle John was heard to remark that. It seemed almost hopeless to try and compete with these unknown experts. He had been petitioning the home authorities for the past year to be allowed to leave his private school and go to Wrykyn. and Mike seemed in no way disturbed by the prospect. but then Bob only recognised one house. A sort of mist enveloped everything Wrykynian. the train drew up at a small station.the beginning of the summer term. with rather a prominent nose. but just at present he felt he would exchange his place in the team for one in the Wrykyn third eleven. and Gladys Maud Evangeline herself. is no great hardship. and Mike settled himself in the corner and opened a magazine. Gladys Maud cried. was on the verge of the first eleven. his magazines. On the other hand.

And here. he might have been quite a nice fellow when you got to know him." "Thank you.portmanteau. and at the next stop got out. and Mike's compartment was nearing the end of the platform. but. If he wanted a magazine. and finally sat down. lying snugly in the rack. and took the seat opposite to Mike. and wondered if he wanted anything. He seemed about to make some remark. sir. The other made no overtures. then. "Porter." The youth drew his head and shoulders in. Besides. but he did not feel equal to offering him one of his magazines. Judging by appearances. He did not like the looks of him particularly. The fellow had forgotten his bag. stared at Mike again. He had all the Englishman's love of a carriage to himself. The train was just moving out of the station when his eye was suddenly caught by the stranger's bag." "No chance of that." said Mike to himself. sir. He opened the door. after all. there'll be a frightful row if any of them get lost." "Sir?" "Are those frightful boxes of mine in all right?" "Yes. but. He snatched the bag from the rack and hurled it out of the window." "Here you are. The porter came skimming down the platform at that moment. Mike noticed that he had nothing to read. thought Mike. He realised in an instant what had happened. the most supercilious person on earth has a right to his own property. Mike had not been greatly fascinated by the stranger's looks. the bag had better be returned at once. Anyhow. sir. whom he scrutinised for a moment rather after the fashion of a naturalist examining some new and unpleasant variety of beetle. He was only travelling a short way. which is always fatal. you know. instead. got up and looked through the open window. "Good business. Mike acted from the best motives. The trainwas already moving quite fast." "Because. he seemed to carry enough side for three. That explained his magazineless condition. . let him ask for it. "Where's that porter?" Mike heard him say. I regret to say.

though not intentionally so. A moment later Bob's head appeared in the doorway." he shouted." "Dash the porter! What's going to happen about my bag? I can't get out for half a second to buy a magazine without your flinging my things about the platform.(Porter Robinson. and the other jumped into the carriage. "Have you changed carriages." said Mike. "I chucked it out." "It wasn't that. escaped with a flesh wound. This was one of them. I say. who happened to be in the line of fire. looking out of the window." said the stranger. * * * * * The glow lasted till the next stoppage." explained Mike. and a pair of pince-nez gleamed from the shadow. "There's nothing to laugh at." Against his will. "I thought you'd got out there for good." "Chucked it out! what do you mean? When?" "At the last station. you little beast. for the train had scarcely come to a standstill when the opening above the door was darkened by a head and shoulders. where's my frightful bag?" Life teems with embarrassing situations. "Only the porter looked awfully funny when it hit him. Mike grinned at the recollection." said Mike hurriedly. The bereaved owner disapproved of this levity. You go chucking bags that don't belong to you out of the window." The guard blew his whistle. "I'm awfully sorry. The look on Porter Robinson's face as the bag took him in the small of the back had been funny.) Then he sat down again with the inward glow of satisfaction which comes to one when one has risen successfully to a sudden emergency. or what?" "No. But fortunately at this moment the train stopped once again. Then it ceased abruptly. "Don't _grin_. "The fact is. and said as much." "Where _is_ the bag?" "On the platform at the last station. and then you have the frightful cheek to grin about it. which did not occur for a good many miles. for he wished to treat the matter with fitting solemnity." said Mike. "Hullo. . and. It hit a porter." The situation was becoming difficult. What you want is a frightful kicking. dash it. "Then. Mike saw a board with East Wobsley upon it in large letters. The head was surmounted by a bowler.

Mike. He grinned again. all the same. "I swear. rather lucky you've met. By the way. are you in Wain's?" he said. then it's certain to be all right. Gazeka?" "Yes. I should rot about like anything. I say. Good cricketer and footballer." agreed Firby-Smith. "Hullo. "He and Wain never get on very well. Wyatt was apparently something of a character. Gazeka!" he exclaimed. Names came into their conversation which were entirely new to him." "Frightful. Mention was made of rows in which he had played a part in the past. discussing events of the previous term of which Mike had never heard. and yet they have to be together. holidays as well as term. and that he was going into it directly after the end of this term. He realised that school politics were being talked. Firby-Smith's head of Wain's. "I say. thinking he'd got out." From this point onwards Mike was out of the conversation altogether." "Frightful nuisance. "It must be pretty rotten for him." "Oh." said Bob." "Naturally. It isn't as if he'd anything to look forward to when he leaves. The name Wyatt cropped up with some frequency. It's just the sort . I chucked Firby-Smith's portmanteau out of the window. I mean. if I were in Wyatt's place."Hullo. They were discussing Wain's now. what happened was this." said Mike. He told me last term that Wain had got a nomination for him in some beastly bank. only he hadn't really. and it's at a station miles back." "You're a bit of a rotter. Firby-Smith continued to look ruffled. "Where did you spring from? Do you know my brother? He's coming to Wrykyn this term. there you are. Rather rough on a chap like Wyatt." "Oh. it's a bit thick. aren't you? Had it got your name and address on it. He took up his magazine again. though not aggressive. and you'll get it either to-night or to-morrow. it's all right. and all that sort of thing. "Oh. Bob. His eye fell upon Mike's companion. Lots of things in it I wanted. listening the while." said Bob. He's in your house. Pretty bad having a step-father at all--I shouldn't care to--and when your house-master and your step-father are the same man." "I mean. It's bound to turn up some time. "I've made rather an ass of myself. They'll send it on by the next train." Mike gathered that Gazeka and Firby-Smith were one and the same person. never mind. Bob and Firby-Smith talked of Wrykyn. and that contributions from him to the dialogue were not required. what have you been doing in the holidays? I didn't know you lived on this line at all.

" Bob looked at Mike. There is no subject on which opinions differ so widely as this matter of finding the way to a place. Go straight on. . So long. Mike made for him. But here they were alone. It was Wrykyn at last. all more or less straight. "Can't make out why none of the fellows came back by this train. To the man who knows. "Come and have some tea at Cook's?" "All right. he always seemed to arrive at a square with a fountain and an equestrian statue in its centre. Crossing the square was a short." And his sole prop in this world of strangers departed. The man might at least have shown him where to get some tea. On the fourth repetition of this feat he stopped in a disheartened way." he said. on alighting. and it's the only Christian train they run. and looked about him. They'll send your luggage on later.of life he'll hate most. and so on. which is your dorm. leaving him to find his way for himself. it is simplicity itself. "Any one'll tell you the way to the school. I suppose they think there'd be nothing to do. ignoring the fact that for him the choice of three roads. The man who does not know feels as if he were in a maze. here we are. I think you'd better nip up to the school. that the platform was entirely free from Wrykynians. He was beginning to feel bitter towards Bob. "Heaps of them must come by this line." "Don't want to get here before the last minute they can possibly manage. and. Probably he really does imagine that he goes straight on. See you later. "Firby-Smith and I are just going to get some tea. having smashed in one another's hats and chaffed the porters. Hullo. Probably Wain will want to see you. There was no disguising the fact that he would be in the way. Silly idea." "What shall _we_ do?" said Bob. and a straw hat with a coloured band. made their way to the school buildings in a solid column. CHAPTER III MIKE FINDS A FRIENDLY NATIVE Mike was surprised to find. and lost his way. Go in which direction he would. At this moment a ray of hope shone through the gloom. a blue blazer. with a happy inspiration. has no perplexities." he concluded airily. thick-set figure clad in grey flannel trousers. and tell you all about things." he said. but how convey this fact delicately to him? "Look here. Plainly a Wrykynian. Mike started out boldly. Mike." Mike looked out of the window. In all the stories he had read the whole school came back by the same train. A remark of Bob's to Firby-Smith explained this.

"It was only against kids. too?" "I played a bit at my last school. "Hullo." "Who's your brother?" "Jackson. and that their owner was a person who liked most people and whom most people liked. this is fame." he said. There was something singularly cool and genial about them." said Mike."Can you tell me the way to the school." "Are you there. And . reminiscent of a good-tempered bull-dog. There's no close season for me. too?" "Am I not! Term _and_ holidays." "Oh. shuffling. "How many?" "Seven altogether. How did you know my name." He was in terror lest he should seem to be bragging." said the stranger. You know. "You look rather lost. He felt that they saw the humour in things. Any more centuries?" "Yes. Only a private school." said the other. you know. it was really awfully rotten bowling. "That's pretty useful. "Make any runs? What was your best score?" "Hundred and twenty-three. He's in Donaldson's. A stout fellow. then? Are you a sort of young Tyldesley. as the ass in the detective story always says to the detective. you know. So you're the newest make of Jackson. who's seen it in the lining of his hat? Who's been talking about me?" "I heard my brother saying something about you in the train. and a pair of very deep-set grey eyes which somehow put Mike at his ease. are you Wyatt. with all the modern improvements? Are there any more of you?" "Not brothers." said Mike. then?" asked Mike. "Oh. you're going to the school. "Pity." added Mike modestly." said Mike." "I know. please. square-jawed face. You can't quite raise a team. latest model. He had a pleasant. "Been hunting for it long?" "Yes." "Wain's? Then you've come to the right man this time. "Which house do you want?" "Wain's." said Mike awkwardly. What I don't know about Wain's isn't worth knowing.

You come along. At Emsworth. and formed the first eleven cricket ground. everything. there was a good deal of punting and drop-kicking in the winter and fielding-practice in the summer. and took in the size of his new home. At the top of the hill came the school. thanks awfully. where. Let's go in here. We shall want some batting in the house this term. a beautiful piece of turf. too." Emsworth seemed very remote and unreal to him as he spoke. On the first terrace was a sort of informal practice ground. That's his." "Yes. which gave me a bit of an advantage. "How many fellows are there in it?" "Thirty-one this term. "He's got a habit of talking to one as if he were a prince of the blood dropping a gracious word to one of the three Small-Heads at the Hippodrome." "That's more than there were at King-Hall's." said Mike. it's jolly big. though no games were played on it. He's head of Wain's. It's too far to sweat to Cook's. cut out of the hill. I was just going to have some tea. They skirted the cricket field. Look here. answering for himself. a shade too narrow . pointing to one of half a dozen large houses which lined the road on the south side of the cricket field. And my pater always has a pro. It is always delicate work answering a question like this unless one has some sort of an inkling as to the views of the questioner. The Wrykyn playing-fields were formed of a series of huge steps." said Mike cautiously." he said. "Why is he called Gazeka?" he asked after a pause." "The old Gazeka? I didn't know he lived in your part of the world. He was glad that he had met Wyatt." "What's King-Hall's?" "The private school I was at. The next terrace was the biggest of all. "Don't you think he looks like one? What did you think of him?" "I didn't speak to him much." said Wyatt. Mike followed his finger. the grounds. To make his entrance into this strange land alone would have been more of an ordeal than he would have cared to face.I was a good bit bigger than most of the chaps there. "I say. I know. seven centuries isn't so dusty against any bowling." said Wyatt. We all have our troubles. "He's all right. walking along the path that divided the two terraces. but that's his misfortune. "That's Wain's. "My brother and Firby-Smith have gone to a place called Cook's." "Oh." "All the same." said Mike. down in the Easter holidays. I believe. He felt out of the picture. Mike's first impression on arriving at the school grounds was of his smallness and insignificance. Everything looked so big--the buildings." It was about a mile from the tea-shop to the school.

for its length, bounded on the terrace side by a sharply sloping bank, some fifteen feet deep, and on the other by the precipice leading to the next terrace. At the far end of the ground stood the pavilion, and beside it a little ivy-covered rabbit-hutch for the scorers. Old Wrykynians always claimed that it was the prettiest school ground in England. It certainly had the finest view. From the verandah of the pavilion you could look over three counties. Wain's house wore an empty and desolate appearance. There were signs of activity, however, inside; and a smell of soap and warm water told of preparations recently completed. Wyatt took Mike into the matron's room, a small room opening out of the main passage. "This is Jackson," he said. "Which dormitory is he in, Miss Payne?" The matron consulted a paper. "He's in yours, Wyatt." "Good business. Who's in the other bed? There are going to be three of us, aren't there?" "Fereira was to have slept there, but we have just heard that he is not coming back this term. He has had to go on a sea-voyage for his health." "Seems queer any one actually taking the trouble to keep Fereira in the world," said Wyatt. "I've often thought of giving him Rough On Rats myself. Come along, Jackson, and I'll show you the room." They went along the passage, and up a flight of stairs. "Here you are," said Wyatt. It was a fair-sized room. The window, heavily barred, looked out over a large garden. "I used to sleep here alone last term," said Wyatt, "but the house is so full now they've turned it into a dormitory." "I say, I wish these bars weren't here. It would be rather a rag to get out of the window on to that wall at night, and hop down into the garden and explore," said Mike. Wyatt looked at him curiously, and moved to the window. "I'm not going to let you do it, of course," he said, "because you'd go getting caught, and dropped on, which isn't good for one in one's first term; but just to amuse you----" He jerked at the middle bar, and the next moment he was standing with it in his hand, and the way to the garden was clear. "By Jove!" said Mike. "That's simply an object-lesson, you know," said Wyatt, replacing the bar, and pushing the screws back into their putty. "I get out at night myself because I think my health needs it. Besides, it's my last term,

anyhow, so it doesn't matter what I do. But if I find you trying to cut out in the small hours, there'll be trouble. See?" "All right," said Mike, reluctantly. "But I wish you'd let me." "Not if I know it. Promise you won't try it on." "All right. But, I say, what do you do out there?" "I shoot at cats with an air-pistol, the beauty of which is that even if you hit them it doesn't hurt--simply keeps them bright and interested in life; and if you miss you've had all the fun anyhow. Have you ever shot at a rocketing cat? Finest mark you can have. Society's latest craze. Buy a pistol and see life." "I wish you'd let me come." "I daresay you do. Not much, however. Now, if you like, I'll take you over the rest of the school. You'll have to see it sooner or later, so you may as well get it over at once."

CHAPTER IV AT THE NETS There are few better things in life than a public school summer term. The winter term is good, especially towards the end, and there are points, though not many, about the Easter term: but it is in the summer that one really appreciates public school life. The freedom of it, after the restrictions of even the most easy-going private school, is intoxicating. The change is almost as great as that from public school to 'Varsity. For Mike the path was made particularly easy. The only drawback to going to a big school for the first time is the fact that one is made to feel so very small and inconspicuous. New boys who have been leading lights at their private schools feel it acutely for the first week. At one time it was the custom, if we may believe writers of a generation or so back, for boys to take quite an embarrassing interest in the newcomer. He was asked a rain of questions, and was, generally, in the very centre of the stage. Nowadays an absolute lack of interest is the fashion. A new boy arrives, and there he is, one of a crowd. Mike was saved this salutary treatment to a large extent, at first by virtue of the greatness of his family, and, later, by his own performances on the cricket field. His three elder brothers were objects of veneration to most Wrykynians, and Mike got a certain amount of reflected glory from them. The brother of first-class cricketers has a dignity of his own. Then Bob was a help. He was on the verge of the cricket team and had been the school full-back for two seasons. Mike found that people came up and spoke to him, anxious to know if he were Jackson's brother; and became friendly when he replied in the affirmative. Influential relations are a help in every stage of life. It was Wyatt who gave him his first chance at cricket. There were nets

on the first afternoon of term for all old colours of the three teams and a dozen or so of those most likely to fill the vacant places. Wyatt was there, of course. He had got his first eleven cap in the previous season as a mighty hitter and a fair slow bowler. Mike met him crossing the field with his cricket bag. "Hullo, where are you off to?" asked Wyatt. "Coming to watch the nets?" Mike had no particular programme for the afternoon. Junior cricket had not begun, and it was a little difficult to know how to fill in the time. "I tell you what," said Wyatt, "nip into the house and shove on some things, and I'll try and get Burgess to let you have a knock later on." This suited Mike admirably. A quarter of an hour later he was sitting at the back of the first eleven net, watching the practice. Burgess, the captain of the Wrykyn team, made no pretence of being a bat. He was the school fast bowler and concentrated his energies on that department of the game. He sometimes took ten minutes at the wicket after everybody else had had an innings, but it was to bowl that he came to the nets. He was bowling now to one of the old colours whose name Mike did not know. Wyatt and one of the professionals were the other two bowlers. Two nets away Firby-Smith, who had changed his pince-nez for a pair of huge spectacles, was performing rather ineffectively against some very bad bowling. Mike fixed his attention on the first eleven man. He was evidently a good bat. There was style and power in his batting. He had a way of gliding Burgess's fastest to leg which Mike admired greatly. He was succeeded at the end of a quarter of an hour by another eleven man, and then Bob appeared. It was soon made evident that this was not Bob's day. Nobody is at his best on the first day of term; but Bob was worse than he had any right to be. He scratched forward at nearly everything, and when Burgess, who had been resting, took up the ball again, he had each stump uprooted in a regular series in seven balls. Once he skied one of Wyatt's slows over the net behind the wicket; and Mike, jumping up, caught him neatly. "Thanks," said Bob austerely, as Mike returned the ball to him. He seemed depressed. Towards the end of the afternoon, Wyatt went up to Burgess. "Burgess," he said, "see that kid sitting behind the net?" "With the naked eye," said Burgess. "Why?" "He's just come to Wain's. He's Bob Jackson's brother, and I've a sort of idea that he's a bit of a bat. I told him I'd ask you if he could have a knock. Why not send him in at the end net? There's nobody there now." Burgess's amiability off the field equalled his ruthlessness when

bowling. "All right," he said. "Only if you think that I'm going to sweat to bowl to him, you're making a fatal error." "You needn't do a thing. Just sit and watch. I rather fancy this kid's something special." * * * * *

Mike put on Wyatt's pads and gloves, borrowed his bat, and walked round into the net. "Not in a funk, are you?" asked Wyatt, as he passed. Mike grinned. The fact was that he had far too good an opinion of himself to be nervous. An entirely modest person seldom makes a good batsman. Batting is one of those things which demand first and foremost a thorough belief in oneself. It need not be aggressive, but it must be there. Wyatt and the professional were the bowlers. Mike had seen enough of Wyatt's bowling to know that it was merely ordinary "slow tosh," and the professional did not look as difficult as Saunders. The first half-dozen balls he played carefully. He was on trial, and he meant to take no risks. Then the professional over-pitched one slightly on the off. Mike jumped out, and got the full face of the bat on to it. The ball hit one of the ropes of the net, and nearly broke it. "How's that?" said Wyatt, with the smile of an impresario on the first night of a successful piece. "Not bad," admitted Burgess. A few moments later he was still more complimentary. He got up and took a ball himself. Mike braced himself up as Burgess began his run. This time he was more than a trifle nervous. The bowling he had had so far had been tame. This would be the real ordeal. As the ball left Burgess's hand he began instinctively to shape for a forward stroke. Then suddenly he realised that the thing was going to be a yorker, and banged his bat down in the block just as the ball arrived. An unpleasant sensation as of having been struck by a thunderbolt was succeeded by a feeling of relief that he had kept the ball out of his wicket. There are easier things in the world than stopping a fast yorker. "Well played," said Burgess. Mike felt like a successful general receiving the thanks of the nation. The fact that Burgess's next ball knocked middle and off stumps out of the ground saddened him somewhat; but this was the last tragedy that occurred. He could not do much with the bowling beyond stopping it and feeling repetitions of the thunderbolt experience, but he kept up his end; and a short conversation which he had with Burgess at the end of his innings was full of encouragement to one skilled in reading

between the lines. "Thanks awfully," said Mike, referring to the square manner in which the captain had behaved in letting him bat. "What school were you at before you came here?" asked Burgess. "A private school in Hampshire," said Mike. "King-Hall's. At a place called Emsworth." "Get much cricket there?" "Yes, a good lot. One of the masters, a chap called Westbrook, was an awfully good slow bowler." Burgess nodded. "You don't run away, which is something," he said. Mike turned purple with pleasure at this stately compliment. Then, having waited for further remarks, but gathering from the captain's silence that the audience was at an end, he proceeded to unbuckle his pads. Wyatt overtook him on his way to the house. "Well played," he said. "I'd no idea you were such hot stuff. You're a regular pro." "I say," said Mike gratefully, "it was most awfully decent of you getting Burgess to let me go in. It was simply ripping of you." "Oh, that's all right. If you don't get pushed a bit here you stay for ages in the hundredth game with the cripples and the kids. Now you've shown them what you can do you ought to get into the Under Sixteen team straight away. Probably into the third, too." "By Jove, that would be all right." "I asked Burgess afterwards what he thought of your batting, and he said, 'Not bad.' But he says that about everything. It's his highest form of praise. He says it when he wants to let himself go and simply butter up a thing. If you took him to see N. A. Knox bowl, he'd say he wasn't bad. What he meant was that he was jolly struck with your batting, and is going to play you for the Under Sixteen." "I hope so," said Mike. The prophecy was fulfilled. On the following Wednesday there was a match between the Under Sixteen and a scratch side. Mike's name was among the Under Sixteen. And on the Saturday he was playing for the third eleven in a trial game. "This place is ripping," he said to himself, as he saw his name on the list. "Thought I should like it." And that night he wrote a letter to his father, notifying him of the fact.

all right").CHAPTER V REVELRY BY NIGHT A succession of events combined to upset Mike during his first fortnight at school. "Oh. His state of mind was not improved by an interview with Bob. He was older than the average new boy. It is never the smallest use for an elder brother to attempt to do anything for the good of a younger brother at school. please. and stared in silence at the photographs on the walls. years of wholesome obscurity make us ready for any small triumphs we may achieve at the end of our time there. So he asked Mike to tea in his study one afternoon before going to the nets. The arrival of tea was the cue for conversation. He only knew that he had received a letter from home. Bob was changing into his cricket things. how he was getting on (a question to which Mike invariably replied. he was not aware of having done anything brotherly towards the youngster." "Cake?" "Thanks. to give him good advice. There is nothing more heady than success. As a rule. how are you getting on?" asked Bob. the Heavy Elder Brother to Mike. half-defiant manner peculiar to small brothers in the presence of their elders. He knew quite well that he was regarded as a find by the cricket authorities." said Mike. Silence. for the latter rebels automatically against such interference in his concerns. "How many lumps?" "Two. "Sugar?" asked Bob. Mike arrived. Mike had skipped these years. Beyond asking him occasionally." said Mike. It did not make him conceited. all right. and the knowledge was not particularly good for him. and his batting was undeniable. sidling into the study in the half-sheepish. "Well. when they met. And when Mike was pleased with life he always found a difficulty in obeying Authority and its rules. "Thanks. The atmosphere was one of constraint and awkwardness. if only for one performance." . and if it comes before we are prepared for it. The effect it had on him was to make him excessively pleased with life. at school. for his was not a nature at all addicted to conceit. it is apt to throw us off our balance. in which his mother had assumed without evidence that he was leading Mike by the hand round the pitfalls of life at Wrykyn. Some evil genius put it into Bob's mind that it was his duty to be. He was far more successful than he had any right to be at his age. and his conscience smote him. but Bob did not know this. "Oh.

" "What do you mean?" said Mike." "I asked Firby-Smith to keep an eye on you. "I shouldn't--I mean. while Bob. "Yes. and cast about him for further words of wisdom. He was only doing it now to ease his conscience. thanks. you've got on so well at cricket. "What!" said Mike. Jackson. In sombre silence he reached out for the jam." he said. I'm not saying anything against you so far. "He said he'd look after you." said Mike cautiously. Mike. "I can look after myself all right. making things worse. I should keep an eye on myself if I were you. "I'm only saying it for your good----" I should like to state here that it was not Bob's habit to go about the world telling people things solely for their good." said Bob. "Oh. of the third eleven!!! Mike helped himself to another chunk of cake. The mere idea of a worm like the Gazeka being told to keep an eye on _him_ was degrading. "Seen you about with Wyatt a good deal. of course. "Yes?" said Mike coldly.Silence. "Look here. and spoke crushingly." said Bob. I should take care what . "It's only this." added Bob. if you don't watch yourself." he said. "He needn't trouble. There's nothing that gets a chap so barred here as side. You know. there's just a chance you might start to side about a bit soon." Bob saw an opening for the entry of the Heavy Elder Brother. "Like Wain's?" "Ripping. filled his cup. "You know." Mike's feelings were too deep for words. Look after him! Him!! M. "Like him?" "Yes. in the third and so on. outraged. What I mean to say is. Bob pulled himself together. satisfied that he had delivered his message in a pleasant and tactful manner. Only you see what I mean. "You've been all right up to now." said Bob." said Mike." he said at length. I'm not saying a word against you so far.

young man. having deposited his cricket-bag in a corner of the room and examined himself carefully in a looking-glass that hung over the mantelpiece. all spectacles and front teeth. turning round and examining himself in the mirror again. Stick on here a bit." Mike's soul began to tie itself into knots again. but if you go on breaking rules you're bound to be sooner or later. "Ah. if you want any more tea. But don't let him drag you into anything. That youth. I wanted to see you. followed by some strenuous fielding in the deep. (Mike disliked being called "young man. A good innings at the third eleven net. He's never been dropped on yet. so said nothing. and preserved his silence till Firby-Smith. of course." Mike followed him in silence to his study. But you might think it was the blood thing to do to imitate him. I mean. "I promised I would. "I've been hearing all about you. "Your brother has asked me to keep an eye on you. "You're a frightful character from all accounts. You'd better be going and changing." he said." Mike could not think of anything to say that was not rude." Mike shuffled. See what I mean?" Bob was well-intentioned. It was maddening to be treated as an infant who had to be looked after. Don't cheek your . he's the sort of chap who'll probably get into some thundering row before he leaves. He felt very sore against Bob. but tact did not enter greatly into his composition. I see Burgess has shoved you down for them. and the first thing you knew you'd be dropped on by Wain or somebody. soothed his ruffled feelings to a large extent. "What rot!" said Mike. He was just at the age when one is most sensitive to patronage and most resentful of it. He doesn't care a hang what he does. I'm going over to the nets. because he's leaving at the end of the term." Mike changed for net-practice in a ferment of spiritual injury. met Mike at the door of Wain's. but still----" "Still what?" "Well.") "Come up to my study. young man. "You'll get on all right if you behave're doing with Wyatt. I've got to be off myself." said the Gazeka." "What do you mean?" "Well. "All right. and all might have been well but for the intervention of Firby-Smith. it doesn't matter much for him. But don't you go doing it. Thing is. He's that sort of chap. he's an awfully good chap. spoke again. though. Don't make a frightful row in the house. Not that he would try to.

Go to sleep and dream that you're playing for the school against Ripton." "Are you going out?" "I am. He turned over on his side and shut his eyes. can't I come too?" A moonlight prowl. * * * * * It was all very well for Wyatt to tell him to go to sleep. but it was not so easy to do it. Wyatt?" "Are you awake?" said Wyatt. "The cats are particularly strong on the wing just now. too. He opened his eyes. increased. you can't. not with shame and remorse. "Hullo. and Mike always found it difficult to sleep unless it was dark. I shall be deadly. He got out of bed and went to the window. but he . by a slight sound. or night rather. and hitting it into space every time." "Do you think you will be caught?" "Shouldn't be surprised. and up to his dormitory to change. of wanting to do something actively illegal." And Wyatt. "No. * * * * * In the dormitory that night the feeling of revolt. wriggled out. he would have been out after moths with a lantern. you stay where you are. but with rage and all that sort of thing. as I'm morally certain to be some day. The room was almost light. "Sorry if I've spoiled your beauty sleep. they're bound to ask if you've ever been out as well as me. just the sort of night on which. Anyhow. He was awakened from a dream in which he was batting against Firby-Smith's bowling. and saw a dark figure silhouetted against the light of the window." said Wyatt. That's all. laying the bar he had extracted on the window-sill. if he had been at home. Mike saw him disappearing along the wall. he burned. He dropped off to sleep full of half-formed plans for asserting himself. Cut along." Mike had a vague idea of sacrificing his career to the momentary pleasure of flinging a chair at the head of the house. Like Eric. "When I'm caught. Specially as there's a good moon. You'll find that useful when the time comes." "I say. "Is that you. Twice he heard the quarters chime from the school clock. So long. and the second time he gave up the struggle. It was a lovely night. Then you'll be able to put your hand on your little heart and do a big George Washington act." he said. A sharp yowl from an unseen cat told of Wyatt's presence somewhere in the big garden. Overcoming this feeling." said Wyatt. he walked out of the room. with or without an air-pistol.elders and betters. He sat up in bed. He would have given much to be with him. would just have suited Mike's mood. Wash. but he had never felt wider awake. Mustn't miss a chance like this.

He took some more biscuits. Any interruption that there might be would come from the further door. Everybody would be in bed. There was a little soda-water in the syphon. The soda-water may have got into his head. in spite of the fact that all was darkness. He crept quietly out of the dormitory.realised that he was on parole. The next moment. along the passage to the left. Food. Wain's dining-room repaid inspection. he proceeded to look about him. To make himself more secure he locked that door. He had promised not to leave the house. then. The fact remains that _he_ inserted the first record that came to hand. He was not alarmed. Mr. Field). it made a noise that seemed to him like three hundred Niagaras. feeling a new man.. It was quite late now. There were the remains of supper on the table. but nobody else in the house appeared to have noticed it. Mr. He finished it. This was Life. consoling thought came to him. Mike recognised it as Mr. And there must be all sorts of things to interest the visitor in Wain's part of the house."_ Mike stood and drained it in. wound the machine up. a voice from the machine announced that Mr. All thought of risk left him. Down the stairs. He had given his word that he would not go into the garden. A voice accompanied the banging. he examined the room. very loud and nasal. Good gracious_ (sang Mr. He had been long enough in the house to know the way. and there was an end of it. It would be quite safe. perhaps. He turned away from the window and sat down on his bed. after a few preliminary chords. Mike cut himself some cheese and took some biscuits from the box.. and up a few more stairs at the end The beauty of the position was that the dining-room had two doors. or he may have been in a particularly reckless mood. Godfrey Field would sing "The Quaint Old Bird. On a table in one corner stood a small gramophone. Field actually did so. one leading into Wain's part of the house. Then a beautiful." And. _what was that?"_ It was a rattling at the handle of the door. And this was where the trouble began. The man who holds the ace of trumps has no . as indeed he was. Wain's. but nothing had been said about exploring inside the house. feeling that he was doing himself well. As it swished into the glass. "Who is there?" inquired the voice. And there were bound to be biscuits on the sideboard in Wain's dining-room. _"Auntie went to Aldershot in a Paris pom-pom hat. A rattling that turned almost immediately into a spirited banging. And gramophones happened to be Mike's particular craze. After which. and set it going. Mike felt that he could just do with a biscuit. _". turning up the incandescent light. the other into the boys' section. and an apple.

while the other door offered an admirable and instantaneous way of escape. and get caught. the most exciting episode of his life. At any moment the noise might bring reinforcements to the besieging force. and dashed down the dark stairs. Raffles have done in a case like this? Suppose he'd been after somebody's jewels. Then he began to be equal to it. on entering the room. He stopped the gramophone. was that he must get into the garden somehow. tingling all over with the consciousness of having played a masterly game. "Now what. but he must not overdo the thing. he might possibly obtain a clue to his identity. "would A. Mike crept across the room on tip-toe and opened the window. to date. for the dining-room was a long way from the dormitories. Mike had not read his "Raffles" for nothing. on the other hand. when suddenly a gruesome idea came to him. he must keep Mr. He jumped out of bed. The handle-rattling was resumed. It had occurred to him. It was open now. Evidently his . and found that they were after him. and warn Wyatt. blissfully unconscious of what was going on indoors. to see that all was well! Wyatt was still in the garden somewhere. "He'd clear out.need to be alarmed. and he could hear somebody moving inside the room." thought Mike. Or the same bright thought might come to Wain himself. and it might flash upon their minds that there were two entrances to the room. The enemy was held in check by the locked door. The main point. It seemed a pity to evacuate the position and ring down the curtain on what was. which had been pegging away patiently at "The Quaint Old Bird" all the time. He would be caught for a certainty! CHAPTER VI IN WHICH A TIGHT CORNER IS EVADED For a moment the situation paralysed Mike. suspicion would be diverted. So long as the frontal attack was kept up. breathless." The answer was simple. This was good. In times of excitement one thinks rapidly and clearly. Suppose Wain took it into his head to make a tour of the dormitories. He lay there. Wain from coming to the dormitory. Wain. His position was impregnable." pondered Mike. If. though it was not likely. and could get away by the other. there was no chance of his being taken in the rear--his only danger. the kernel of the whole thing. and he sat up. that if Mr. J. just in time. and he'd locked one door. found that the occupant had retired by way of the boys' part of the house. and reflected. He had taken care to close the dining-room door after him. Two minutes later he was in bed. And at the same time. he opened the window.

" said Mike. Jackson. drew inspiration from it. "Thought I heard a noise. Wain was standing at the window. please. sir!" said Mike. "What are you doing here?" said he at last. "_Me_. sir. and went in. with the air of a bishop accused of contributing to the _Police News_." "A noise?" "Please." "You thought you heard----!" The thing seemed to be worrying Mr. please. "Of course not. and stared in astonishment at Mike's pyjama-clad figure. Wain's wish that he should spend the night playing Massa Tambo to his Massa Bones. thin man. Mr. "Of course not. Mike. of course not. He looked about him. What are you doing here?" "Thought I heard a noise." "A noise?" "A row. I don't know why I asked. and. looking out. could barely check a laugh. Wain hurriedly. Wain continued to stare. "Please. sir. He looked like some weird bird. "I think there must have been a burglar in here. All this is very unsettling. Wain." If it was Mr." "I found the window open. He knocked at the door. Wain was a tall." said Mike. I thought I heard a noise. He was prepared to continue the snappy dialogue till breakfast time. His body was wrapped in a brown dressing-gown. catching sight of the gramophone. "Did you turn on the gramophone?" he asked. sir. The house-master's giant brain still appeared to be somewhat clouded. through which he peered owlishly at Mike. Mr.retreat had been made just in time. He wore spectacles." "Looks like it. it was not for him to baulk the house-master's innocent pleasure. He spun round at the knock. in spite of his anxiety. "So I came down. sir. a row." said Mr. His hair was ruffled. sir." . Mr. with a serious face partially obscured by a grizzled beard. sir. sir.

Wyatt was round at the back somewhere." "Yes." Mr. Wyatt? I say----" "Jackson!" The moon came out again."He's probably in the garden. Twice branches sprang out from nowhere. I know. Mike stopped. Mike worked his way cautiously through these till he was out of sight. and hit Mike smartly over the shins. as if its behaviour in letting burglars be in it struck him as unworthy of a respectable garden. Wain. _"Et tu. "You young ass. I mean. sir. "You promised me that you wouldn't get out. as who should say. Fortunately a belt of evergreens ran along the path right up to the house. but----" "I heard you crashing through the shrubbery like a hundred elephants." "You think not?" "Wouldn't be such a fool." Mr. He had evidently been crouching in the bushes on all fours. and he was running across the lawn into the shrubbery. Wain. On the second of these occasions a low voice spoke from somewhere on his right. such an ass." said Wyatt. "He might be still in the house. and it was not easy to find a way through the bushes. Wain looked out into the garden with an annoyed expression. you might . Jackson. and Mike saw Wyatt clearly. He ran to the window. "Not likely. "Who on earth's that?" it said. eliciting sharp howls of pain. ruminatively. rendered speechless by this move just as he had been beginning to recover his faculties." said Mr. "Is that you." cried Mike. There might be a bit of a row on his return. An inarticulate protest from Mr. He felt that all was well. His knees were covered with mould." "Perhaps you are right." "I shouldn't wonder if he was hiding in the shrubbery. but he could always plead overwhelming excitement. sir. and vaulted through it on to the lawn. Brute!"_ "By Jove! I think I see him. and the problem was how to get back without being seen from the dining-room window. The moon had gone behind the clouds. then tore for the regions at the back. Wain looked at the shrubbery. sir. sir. sir. If you _must_ get out at night and chance being sacked.

"You have no business to be excited. "Jackson! What do you mean by running about outside the house in this way! I shall punish you very heavily. It started playing 'The Quaint Old Bird. I suppose. "I couldn't find him." Mike clambered through the window. Then it'll be all right if Wain comes and looks into the dorm." "Yes. but you don't understand. It is exceedingly impertinent of you. as if you'd just woke up and thought you'd heard a row.' Ripping it was. Or. "You're a genius. boy? You are laying the seeds of a bad cold." "You--_what?_" "The gramophone. You dash along then. You must tread like a policeman. Did you not hear me call to you?" "Please. if you like. so excited. sir." said Mike." "It wasn't that. come in. Come in at once. You have been seriously injured. drinking in the beauties of the summer night through the open least have the sense to walk quietly. it was rather a rotten thing to do." Wyatt doubled up with noiseless laughter. Have you no sense. but I turned on the gramophone. "Undoubtedly so. I will not have it. if you were in the dining-room?" asked Wyatt. Wain. I will not have it. He gibbered slightly when Mike reappeared. It was very wrong of you to search for him. The thing was. sir. till Wain came along." "Undoubtedly. you see." "Please." "That's not a bad idea. All right." he said. I'll get back. Wain was still in the dining-room. "It's miles from his bedroom." said Mr. may I come in?" "Come in! Of course. and I'll go back to the dining-room. standing outside with his hands on the sill. I shall certainly report the matter to the headmaster. "I never saw such a man. You will do me two hundred lines. Latin and English. you might come down too. He must have got out of the garden. I will not have boys rushing about the garden in their pyjamas. Well. You will catch an exceedingly bad cold." Mr." And Mike rapidly explained the situation. Exceedingly so. what's the game now? What's the idea?" "I think you'd better nip back along the wall and in through the window. Exceedingly so" . "But how the dickens did he hear you. sir.

It is preposterous." said Mike. "Has there been a burglary?" "Yes. Inordinately so. Wain's manner changed to a slow and stately sarcasm. of Donaldson's. James--and you. You hear me. CHAPTER VII IN WHICH MIKE IS DISCUSSED Trevor and Clowes. sir?" said Wyatt. I will not have this lax and reckless behaviour. you will both be punished with extreme severity. if I find you outside your dormitory again to-night. "sir" in public. The question stung Mr.He was about to say more on the subject when Wyatt strolled into the room. "Stay where you are. Wain "father" in private. It is possible that you mistook my meaning." he said. in the heavy way almost invariably affected by weak masters in their dealings with the obstreperous. in much the same way as a motor-car changes from the top speed to its first. preparatory to going on the river. He called Mr." he said excitedly. I must be obeyed instantly. At least Trevor was in the study. "I was distinctly under the impression that I had ordered you to retire immediately to your dormitory." he said. hanging over space. James. "I was under the impression. the other outside." said Mike. Wain into active eruption once more. I will not have boys running about my garden at night. "We might catch him. you understand me? To bed at once. The presence of Mike made this a public occasion. "Under no circumstances whatever. In these circumstances. getting tea ready. Mr. "only he has got away. sir. I shall not speak to you again on this subject. "I thought I heard a noise. Clowes was on the window-sill. He loved to sit in this attitude. sir. . He yawned before he spoke. Jackson? James. Both of you go to bed immediately. Wyatt wore the rather dazed expression of one who has been aroused from deep sleep. one leg in the room." They made it so. Jackson--you will doubtless see the necessity of complying with my wishes." "But the burglar. And. watching some one else work. In that case I shall be happy to repeat what I said. sir?" asked Wyatt helpfully. and have a look round. It is also in my mind that I threatened to punish you with the utmost severity if you did not retire at once. were sitting in their study a week after the gramophone incident." "Shall I go out into the garden.

On the present occasion he was measuring out tea with a concentration worthy of a general planning a campaign. "I said.' I say." said Trevor. Better order it to-day. Hence. "One for the pot. Trevor was shorter. "What particular rot were you thinking about just then? What fun it was sitting back and watching other fellows work. and very much in earnest over all that he did. I have a brother myself.' At least. I suppose it's fun to him. where is he? Among the also-rans." "See it done." "You aren't doing a stroke. 'Good chap. 'One Clowes is ample for any public school. I did not." "Why not? Shouldn't have minded. Trevor?" "One.'" "You were right there. I often say to people. "All right.' That's what I say. Couple of years younger than me. Did I want them spread about the school? No. 'Big blue eyes literally bubbling over with fun. slicing bread." "Marlborough.and giving his views on life to whoever would listen to them. That's a thing you couldn't do." said Clowes. Cheek's what I call it. as our old pal Nero used to remark. Where is he? Your brother. I'm thinking of Life. packing ." "I withdraw what I said about your sense." "My lad. we shall want some more jam to-morrow. Like the heroes of the school stories.' I pointed out that I was just on the verge of becoming rather a blood at Wrykyn. Consider it unsaid." said Clowes. Not a bad chap in his way. I said. I have always had a high opinion of your sense. I should think. Clowes was tall. My people wanted to send him here. laddie." "That shows your sense. two excess. I lodged a protest." "My mind at the moment. Aged fifteen." "Silly ass. "Come and help. If you'd been a silly ass. Trevor. you'd have let your people send him here. Tigellinus. which he was not. Have you got any brothers. we see my brother two terms ago. 'and he's all right. But when it comes to deep thought." said Trevor. I mean." breathed Trevor. and that I didn't want the work of years spoiled by a brother who would think it a rag to tell fellows who respected and admired me----" "Such as who?" "----Anecdotes of a chequered infancy. and looked sad. I say. "was tensely occupied with the problem of brothers at school. but can't think of Life." "Too busy. Give him a tea-pot and half a pound of butter to mess about with. you slacker. Trevor. There are stories about me which only my brother knows. 'One Clowes is luxury.

naturally. so he broods over him like a policeman. and why he didn't look after him better: or he spends all his spare time shadowing him to see that he doesn't get into trouble. he is. What's wrong with him? He doesn't stick on side any way. but. If I frown----" "Oh." "Why?" "Well. he returned to his subject. however." "Well?" "Look here. That's where the whole rotten trouble starts. considering his cricket." "What's up? Does he rag?" . "After the serious business of the meal was concluded. perhaps." "Jackson's all right. They think how nice it will be for all the sons to have been at the same school. We were on the subject of brothers at school. and a simple hymn had been sung by those present. People's faces brighten when I throw them a nod." "There's nothing wrong with him in that way. fawned upon by masters. come on. But the term's hardly started yet." said Trevor. revered by all who don't. You say Jackson's all right. Bob Jackson is practically responsible for the kid. and tooling off to Rugby.up his little box. and he's very decent. At the end of that period. Clowes resumed his very interesting remarks. loved by all who know me. I've talked to him several times at the nets. "Mr. which is pretty rotten for him and maddens the kid. what happens? He either lets the kid rip. but while they're there. too. But his getting into trouble hasn't anything to do with us. what's at the bottom of this sending young brothers to the same school as elder brothers?" "Elder brother can keep an eye on him. it's the limit. Bread and jam and cake monopolised Clowes's attention for the next quarter of an hour. Bob seems to be trying the first way. He feels that his reputation hangs on the kid's conduct. My heart bleeds for Bob." "Young Jackson seems all right. For once in your life you've touched the spot. as I said. take the melancholy case of Jackson Brothers. which is what I should do myself. Now. At present. so far. which he might easily do. in which case he may find himself any morning in the pleasant position of having to explain to his people exactly why it is that little Willie has just received the boot. who looks on him as no sportsman. It's just the one used by chaps' people." "What a rotten argument. And here am I at Wrykyn. It's the masters you've got to consider. It may be all right after they're left. What's wrong with him? Besides. It's all right. I suppose." he said." "That's just it. with an unstained reputation. courted by boys. the term's only just started. In other words. young Jackson came to Wrykyn when all his brothers had been here.

. He keeps on wriggling out of small rows till he thinks he can do anything he likes without being dropped on. he resolved to see Bob about it during preparation."From what I gather from fellows in his form he's got a genius for ragging. and then all of a sudden he finds himself up to the eyebrows in a record smash. tell the Gazeka. he's on the spot. For instance. Still." "The Gazeka is a fool. "Somebody ought to speak to Bob." "Yes. He's asking for trouble. Thinks of things that don't occur to anybody else. I shouldn't think so. made it impossible for him to drop the matter. which he hasn't time for. anyhow. Besides. too. And if you're caught at that game. every other night. if Jackson's so thick with him. It would be a beastly thing for Bob if the kid did get into a really bad row." "If you must tell anybody. Well. The odds are." "That's always the way with that sort of chap. walking back to the house." Trevor looked disturbed. who do you see him about with all the time?" "He's generally with Wyatt when I meet him. however. One always sees him about on half-holidays. He's head of Wain's. It's nothing to do with us. All I say is that he's just the sort who does. But there's nothing to prevent Jackson following him on his own. and. and has got far more chance of keeping an eye on Jackson than Bob has. Wyatt wouldn't land him if he could help it. But he's working up for a tremendous row one of these days. It disturbed him all the time that he and Clowes were on the river. I happen to know that Wyatt breaks out of his dorm. Let's stagger out. shall we?" * * * * * Trevor's conscientious nature. then!" "What's wrong with Wyatt? He's one of the decentest men in the school. it's the boot every time." "What's the good? Why worry him? Bob couldn't do anything. but he probably wouldn't realise what he was letting the kid in for. You'd only make him do the policeman business." "He never seems to be in extra. Better leave him alone. that he'll be roped into it too. I don't know if he takes Jackson with him." "I don't know." "I know. I don't say young Jackson will land himself like that." "All front teeth and side. unless he leaves before it comes off. and does them. and which is bound to make rows between them. But what's the good of worrying.

He found him in his study." said Bob." "Nor do I. so I suppose he wants to have a rag. Clowes and I were talking----" "If Clowes was there he was probably talking." "That's all right then." "Not a bit." "Oh. What happened?" "I didn't get a paper either." "I should. Only he is rather mucking about this term." "Oh. he seems a great pal of Wyatt's." "Oh." "Not that there's anything wrong with Wyatt." "I hope he isn't idiot enough to go out at night with Wyatt." "Don't blame him. "That reminds me. Rather rot. J. I think I'll speak to him again. though. if he lugged your brother into a row by accident. of seeing that he didn't come a mucker than you would. sitting up." he said. If Wyatt likes to risk it. I meant the one here. all right. you did? That's all right. Is that a new bat?" "Got it to-day. Smith said he'd speak to him. I didn't mean that brother. Did he get his century all right?" "Who?" asked Trevor. He'd have more chance. I spoke to him about it. I hear. but. W." "I've done that. Smashed my other yesterday--against the school house. Are you busy?" "No. It's his last. that I know of. oiling a bat. "I say. Mike? What's Mike been up to?" "Nothing as yet. That's his look out." . He'd made sixty-three not out against Kent in this morning's paper." "Clowes suggested putting Firby-Smith on to him. "look here. But it won't do for Mike to go playing the goat too. "My brother." "I should get blamed. Bob." "I know. then. I forgot to get the evening paper. bewildered. being in the same house. by Jove. Well?" "About your brother. I think. you know. Why?" "It's this way. I say.

" "Better than at the beginning of the term. I simply couldn't do a thing then. It is just the same with a row." said Trevor. I see Mike's playing for the second against the O. and he said. he thinks. Some trivial episode occurs." "Well. Henfrey'll be captain. always says that Mike's going to be the star cricketer of the family. 'You'll be making a lot of runs some day. I asked him what he thought of me. and had beaten them." "Sort of infant prodigy. You are walking along one seemingly fine day. And. to coach you in the holidays. I suppose he'll get his first next year. for years.Donaldson's had played a friendly with the school house during the last two days. Pretty good for his first term. The next moment the thing has begun. Bob. though. isn't there? I shall have Mike cutting me out before I leave school if I'm not careful. It was so with the great picnic at Wrykyn. one of those rows which turn a school upside down like a volcanic eruption and provide old boys with something to talk about. anyhow. started on his Thucydides. whose remarks seemed to contain nothing even remotely resembling sense and coherence. Better than J. even. the pro. You were rather in form. having finished his oiling and washed his hands.W.s. he allowed the question of Mike's welfare to fade from his mind like a dissolving view." He went back to his study. "I thought I heard it go. Nearly all the first are leaving." "Yes. and you are standing in a shower-bath. You have a pro. I expect. and there falls on you from space one big drop. I didn't go to him much this last time. 18. and Bob. when suddenly there is a hush." "Hope so. . CHAPTER VIII A ROW WITH THE TOWN The beginning of a big row. But Mike fairly lived inside the net. in the stress of wrestling with the speech of an apparently delirious Athenian general. is not unlike the beginning of a thunderstorm. "Don't think he's quite up to it yet. "I should think you're bound to get your first all right. at home. But my last three innings have been 33 not out. and in an instant the place is in a ferment. I was away a lot.' There's a subtle difference. it's not been chucked away. don't you?" "Yes. when they meet. and 51. Mr. W." "Saunders. There'll be a big clearing-out of colours at the end of this term.

and there was rather a row. Yesterday one of the men put down for the second against the O. and some of the chaps were going back to their houses after it when they got into a row with a lot of brickies from the town. only I don't quite know where he comes in. Rot I call it. "P. the Surrey man.The bare outlines of the beginning of this affair are included in a letter which Mike wrote to his father on the Sunday following the Old Wrykynian matches. He's Wain's step-son.W. these words: "Or a bob would be better than nothing. Jones. and 30 in a form match. only they bar one another) told me about it. But there were certain details of some importance which had not come to his notice when he sent the letter. so I played. but didn't do much. but a fellow called Wyatt (awfully decent chap. Love to everybody. together with the school choir.S. all those who had been playing in the four elevens which the school put into the field against the old boys. because I didn't get an innings. Low down. He was in it all right. lengthened by speeches. There's a dinner after the matches on O." And.--Half-a-crown would do. as a . "Your loving son. I didn't do much." * * * * * The outline of the case was as Mike had stated. The thing had happened after this fashion.--Thanks awfully for your letter. Tell Marjory I'll write to her in a day or two. were entertained by the headmaster to supper in the Great Hall. The banquet. Rather rot. I'll find out and tell you next time I write. Rather decent. So I didn't go in. because they won the toss and made 215. I suppose you couldn't send me five bob. Bob played for the first. matches day because they have a lot of rotten Greek plays and things which take up a frightful time. They stop the cricket on O. Wasn't it luck? It's the first time I've played for the second. on the back of the envelope. I had to dive for it. 28 not out in the Under Sixteen game. day. I wasn't in it. They'd stuck me in eighth wicket.W. only I'd rather it was five bob. "Rather a rummy thing happened after lock-up. lasted.--I say. And I made rather a decent catch at mid-on. My scores since I wrote last have been 0 in a scratch game (the sun got in my eyes just as I played. This was the letter: "DEAR FATHER. "MIKE. At the conclusion of the day's cricket. 15 for the third against an eleven of masters (without G.S. so we stop from lunch to four. I believe he's rather sick about it.P. I hope you are quite well. Still. There was a policeman mixed up in it somehow. could you? I'm rather broke. He was run out after he'd got ten. "P. and by the time we'd made 140 for 6 it was close of play. and recitations which the reciters imagined to be songs. and Spence). and half the chaps are acting. songs.W. and I got bowled). I have been getting on all right at cricket lately. B.'s second couldn't play because his father was very ill. I may get another shot. On the Monday they were public property.

the town. but it was the unwritten law that only in special circumstances should they proceed to active measures. show a tendency to dwindle. They seldom proceeded to practical rowdyism and never except with the school. was peculiarly rich in "gangs of youths. It was the custom. were among the few flaws in the otherwise admirable character of the headmaster of Wrykyn. accordingly. it suddenly whizzed out from the enemy's ranks. As a rule.rule. for the diners to trudge off to this lamp-post. About midway between Wrykyn. The school usually performed it with certain modifications and improvements. the school. and turn in. they seemed to have no work of any kind whatsoever to occupy their time. therefore. This was the official programme. in the midst of their festivities. the first tomato was enough to set matters moving. the town. when the revellers were supposed to go back to their houses by the nearest route. till about ten o'clock. there stands on an island in the centre of the road a solitary lamp-post. Possibly. But after an excellent supper and much singing and joviality. dance round it for some minutes singing the school song or whatever happened to be the popular song of the moment. and Wrykyn. But there were others. they amused themselves by shouting rude chaff. and then race back to their houses. much as an Oxford man regards the townee. one's views are apt to alter. if the town brigade had stuck to a purely verbal form of attack. to spend prowling about and indulging in a mild. and that the criticisms were. Words can be overlooked. No man of spirit can bear to be pelted with over-ripe tomatoes for any length of time without feeling that if the thing goes on much longer he will be reluctantly compelled to take steps. As the two armies stood facing each other in silence under the dim and mysterious rays of the lamp. But tomatoes cannot. In the present crisis. if they knew--which they must have done--never interfered. and hit Wyatt on the right ear. The school regarded them with a lofty contempt. Wrykyn. which they used. A curious dislike for school-and-town rows and most misplaced severity in dealing with the offenders when they took place. Risks which before supper seemed great. as a rule. and had been the custom for generations back. and the authorities. It was understood that one scragged bargees at one's own risk. rural type of hooliganism. that they were being observed and criticised by an equal number of townees. they found themselves forgetting the headmaster's prejudices and feeling only that these outsiders must be put to the sword as speedily as possible. it was not considered worth it." Like the vast majority of the inhabitants of the place. brainless. Antiquity had given the custom a sort of sanctity. the twenty or so Wrykynians who were dancing round the lamp-post were aware. all might yet have been peace. essentially candid and personal. for the honour of the school. as usual. . The school was always anxious for a row. and. When.

now splitting up into little groups. as an ideal place in which to bestow the captives. It is impossible to do the latest ducks and hooks taught you by the instructor if your antagonist butts you in the chest. Gloomy in the daytime. "My idea of a good after-dinner game is to try and find the chap who threw that. "Now then. Wyatt took out his handkerchief and wiped his face. now in a solid mass. The scene of the conflict had shifted little by little to a spot some fifty yards from where it had started. And their lonely condition seemed to be borne in upon these by a simultaneous brain-wave. but two remained. at any rate at first. whose finer feelings had been entirely blotted out by tomato. and stampeded as one man. * * * * * The school gathered round its prisoners." he said. By the side of the road at this point was a green. tackled low by Wyatt and Clowes after the fashion of the football-field. and then kicks your shins. A move was made towards the pond. But." it said. depressed looking pond. The leaders were beyond recall. Most Wrykynians knew how to box to a certain extent. and there is nothing that adds a force to one's blows and a recklessness to one's style of delivering them more than a sense of injury. and the procession had halted on the brink. over which the succulent vegetable had spread itself. Wyatt. Probably what gave the school the victory in the end was the righteousness of their cause. Anybody coming?" For the first five minutes it was as even a fight as one could have wished to see. one side of his face still showing traces of the tomato." he said quietly. for they suddenly gave the fight up. It struck Wyatt. when a new voice made itself heard. He very seldom lost his temper. Barely a dozen remained. To be scientific one must have an opponent who observes at least the more important rules of the ring. hits you at the same time on the back of the head. but he did draw the line at bad tomatoes. . The greatest expert would lose his science in such circumstances. panting. of whose presence you had no idea. "Let's chuck 'em in there. They were smarting under a sense of injury. It raged up and down the road without a pause. Presently the school noticed that the enemy were vanishing little by little into the darkness which concealed the town. "what's all this?" A stout figure in policeman's uniform was standing surveying them with the aid of a small bull's-eye lantern. it looked unspeakable at night.There was a moment of suspense. while some dear friend of his. "I don't know how you fellows are going to pass the evening. except the prisoners. it was no time for science. led the school with a vigour that could not be resisted. The idea was welcomed gladly by all. The science was on the side of the school.

a cheer from the launching party. "You run along on your beat. Butt. or you'll go typhoid." "It's anything but a lark. A man about to be hurled into an excessively dirty pond will clutch at a stout policeman. "Ho. You can't do anything here. sprang forward. determined to assert himself even at the eleventh hour. you chaps. At the same moment the executioners gave their man the final heave. There was a sounding splash as willing hands urged the first of the captives into the depths. you chaps. scrambled out. a lark's a lark. They're a-going to chuck us in the pond." "Ho!" "Shove 'em in. "Oo-er!" From prisoner number one. Mr." "I don't want none of your lip. but if out quick they may not get on to you. it's an execution. Just as the second prisoner was being launched. Butt." said Wyatt. As he came within reach he attached himself to his tunic with the vigour and concentration of a limpet. He ploughed his way to the bank. and a splash compared with which . Constable Butt represented his one link with dry land." said Mr. a frightened squawk from some birds in a neighbouring tree. whoever you are. "Make 'em leave hold of us. are they? Come now." said Wyatt. understanding but dimly. is it? What's on?" One of the prisoners spoke. young gentleman. and seized the captive by the arm." "Ho!" said the policeman. The policeman realised his peril too late. "This is quite a private matter. Constable Butt." "Stop!" From Mr. and suspecting impudence by instinct. This isn't a lark. Wyatt turned to the other prisoner. Carry on. That's what we are. but you ought to know where to stop. I expect there are leeches and things there." said Wyatt in the creamy voice he used when feeling particularly savage. Don't swallow more than you can help. A howl from the townee. with a change in his voice." It was here that the regrettable incident occurred. "We're the Strong Right Arm of Justice."What's all this?" "It's all right. A medley of noises made the peaceful night hideous. a yell from the policeman. He'll have churned up a bit. "You'll the mud getting you nip have the worst of it. The prisoner did. "All right. A drowning man will clutch at a straw. Butt. and vanished. going in second.

and "with them. sir. calling upon the headmaster." said Wyatt. Mr. as he watched the Law shaking the water from itself on the other side of the pond. went to look for the thrower. with others. Police Constable Alfred Butt. Nurtured on motor-cars and fed with stop-watches. _Plop_!" said Mr. devastating row has many points of resemblance with a prairie fire. [Illustration: THE DARK WATERS WERE LASHED INTO A MAELSTROM] The school stood in silent consternation. before any one can realise what is happening. I shall--certainly----" . having prudently changed his clothes. we find Mr. The imagination of the force is proverbial. they did. really!" said the headmaster." as they say in the courts of law. "Really. The tomato hit Wyatt.the first had been as nothing. The remnants of the thrower's friends were placed in the pond. "Threw me in. The headmaster was grave and sympathetic. But for the unerring aim of the town marksman great events would never have happened. The flame catches a bunch of dry grass. it has become world-famous. "I'm not half sure that we hadn't better be moving!" CHAPTER IX BEFORE THE STORM Your real. sheets of fire are racing over the country. but both comparisons may stand. and throws away the match. Butt gave free rein to it. Following the chain of events. In dealing with so vast a matter as a row there must be no stint. and all was over. with a certain sad relish. A tomato is a trivial thing (though it is possible that the man whom it hits may not think so). sir. Mr." "Threw you in!" "Yes. and then two streaming figures squelched up the further bank. it was the direct cause of epoch-making trouble. Wyatt. "Do you know. and the interested neighbours are following their example. Butt.) The tomato which hit Wyatt in the face was the thrown-away match. Butt fierce and revengeful. and. Yes. "Indeed! This is--dear me! I shall certainly--They threw you in!--Yes. A man on a prairie lights his pipe. sir. Butt. The dark waters were lashed into a maelstrom. (I have already compared a row with a thunderstorm. It was no occasion for light apologies. but in the present case.

The headmaster tapped restlessly on the floor with his foot. "I _was_ wet." "H'm--Well." he added. "How many boys were there?" he asked. Lots of them all gathered together. 'Wot's this all about." said Mr. "and it _was_ a frakkus!" "And these boys actually threw you into the pond?" "_Plop_. I wonder?' I says. constable." "Ye-e-s--H'm--Yes--Most severely. I will look into the matter at once." "Good-night. "I was on my beat. and threw you into the water----" "_Splish_." "Yes. he would have known that statements by the police in the matter of figures must be divided by any number from two to ten. beginning to suspect something.' I says. They actually seized you." concluded Mr. "And you are certain that your assailants were boys from the school?" "Sure as I am that I'm sitting here.Encouraged by this appreciative reception of his story. "Two hundred!" "It was dark.' And. sir. 'Blow me if I don't think it's a frakkus." "Yes--Thank you. according to discretion. with a vividness of imagery both surprising and gratifying. Butt is drying my uniform at home at this very moment as we sit talking here. He . sir!" said the policeman. sir. and I thought I heard a disturbance. he accepted Constable Butt's report almost as it stood." The headmaster of Wrykyn was not a motorist. ''Allo. sir! Mrs. Had he been a motorist. They all 'ad their caps on their heads. Butt promptly. again with the confidential air. too. 'a frakkus. She says to me. sir. As it was. Owing to this disadvantage he made a mistake. 'Why. with the air of one confiding a secret. sir. sir." "I have never heard of such a thing. sir. but if you ask me my frank and private opinion I should say couple of 'undred. Butt started it again. right from the beginning.' And. sir. and fighting. and I couldn't see not to say properly." "Yes.' I says. Good-night. I can hardly believe that it is possible. They shall be punished. Wringin' wet. Mr. I says to myself. "Couple of 'undred. Butt. whatever _'ave_ you been a-doing? You're all wet. sir." The headmaster's frown deepened. sir.

or nearly always. was culpable. though not always in those words. And here they were. and in private at that. But there is no denying that a row does break the monotony of a school term.W. and finally become a mere vague memory. Even the consolation of getting on to platforms and shouting at itself is denied to it. The blow had fallen. The school was thunderstruck. They were not malicious. As it was. but he accepted the statement in so far as it indicated that the thing had been the work of a considerable section of the school. and Wrykyn had come into line with the rest. I say!" Everybody was saying it. astounded "Here. and crushed guilty and innocent alike. and the school. expend itself in words. The step which the headmaster decided to take by way of avenging Mr. which at one time had looked like being fatal. blank." they had said. They did not want to see their friends in difficulties. a certain member of the Royal Family had recovered from a dangerous illness. It happened that. which was followed throughout the kingdom. .. had approved of the announcement exceedingly. the school's indignation would have been allowed to simmer down in the usual way. The thrilling feeling that something is going to happen is the salt of life. Butt's wrongs was to stop this holiday. There is every probability--in fact. but Eton and Harrow had set the example. "There'll be a frightful row about it. When condensed. A public school has no Hyde Park. and those who had had nothing to do with it had been much amused. He gave out a notice to that effect on the Monday. thrilled with the pleasant excitement of those who see trouble approaching and themselves looking on from a comfortable distance without risk or uneasiness. It could not understand it.. as a whole. he would have asked for their names. Had he known how few were the numbers of those responsible for the cold in the head which subsequently attacked Constable Butt. and he proceeded to punish the school as a whole. always ready to stop work.thought that he might possibly have been mistaken as to the exact numbers of those concerned in his immersion. It was one vast. about a week before the pond episode. it is certain--that.'s matches the headmaster had given out a notice in the hall that the following Friday would be a whole holiday. Only two days before the O. No official holiday had been given to the schools in honour of the recovery. and an extra lesson would have settled the entire matter. of course. It must always. but for one malcontent. * * * * * There is something rather pathetic in the indignation of a school. And this made all the difference to his method of dealing with the affair. The pond affair had. he got the impression that the school. everybody's comment on the situation came to that. however. * * * * * The school's attitude can be summed up in three words. become public property.. right in it after all. and not of only one or two individuals.

and he proceeded now to carry it on till it blazed up into the biggest thing of its kind ever known at Wrykyn--the Great Picnic. Neville-Smith was thoroughly representative of the average Wrykynian. "What are you going to do?" asked Wyatt. He had been responsible for the starting of the matter. He added that something ought to be done about it. on the whole. he would not have dreamed of proceeding beyond words in his revolt. "What do you mean?" "Why don't you take the holiday?" "What? Not turn up on Friday!" "Yes. Wyatt acted on him like some drug. is typical of the way in which he forced his point of view on the school. He said it was a swindle. guiltily conscious that he had been frothing. and he was full of it. even though he may not approve of it. that it was all rot. and. a day-boy." "Why not?" said Wyatt. But at heart he had an enormous respect for authority." "You're rotting. "I don't suppose one can actually _do_ anything. intense respect for order and authority." said Neville-Smith a little awkwardly. A conversation which he had with Neville-Smith. "You're what?" "I simply sha'n't go to school. He expressed his opinion of the headmaster freely and in well-chosen words. "Well. a daring sort of person.The malcontent was Wyatt. Wyatt's coolness and matter-of-fact determination were his chief weapons." Neville-Smith stopped and stared. He could play his part in any minor "rag" which interested him. Leaders of boys are almost unknown. It requires genius to sway a school. It would be an absorbing task for a psychologist to trace the various stages by which an impossibility was changed into a reality. will appreciate the magnitude of his feat. * * * * * Any one who knows the public schools. as a whole. Leaders of men are rare. Neville-Smith came upon Wyatt on his way to the nets. Wyatt was unmoved." . and scenting sarcasm. and probably considered himself. His popularity and reputation for lawlessness helped him." "All right. Before he came to Wyatt. I'm not going to. and that it was a beastly shame. their ironbound conservatism. The notice concerning the holiday had only been given out that morning.

Are you just going to cut off. ragging barred. "It would be a bit of a rag. They couldn't sack the whole school. If the whole school took Friday off. though the holiday's been stopped?" "That's the idea. to disperse casually and innocently on the approach of some person in authority. CHAPTER X THE GREAT PICNIC . they couldn't do much." Another pause." "You'll get sacked." "Do you think the chaps would do it?" "If they understood they wouldn't be alone. Wyatt whistling. Neville-Smith's mind in a whirl. but. "Do. "Shall I ask some of them?" said Neville-Smith." said Neville-Smith after a pause. I believe. An air of expectancy permeated each of the houses. Groups kept forming in corners apart. I say. There were mysterious whisperings and gigglings." "All right." "Not bad." said Wyatt. what a score. "Tell them that I shall be going anyhow. wouldn't it be?" "Yes." "I say." "By Jove. and let you know." "I suppose so. nor could they! I say!" They walked on. wouldn't it? I could get a couple of dozen from Wain's."No. I should be glad of a little company." "I could get quite a lot." "That would be a start." "I'll speak to the chaps to-night." * * * * * The school turned in on the Thursday night in a restless. excited way. "I say. But only because I shall be the only one to do it. We should be forty or fifty strong to start with.

Punctuality is the politeness of princes. to Brown." "Somebody would have turned up by now. I should have got up an hour later. The majority of these lived in the town." "Perhaps he sent another notice round the houses late last night. What could it mean? It was an occasion on which sane people wonder if their brains are not playing them some unaccountable trick. At that hour there was a call-over in each of the form-rooms. I can't make it out. Some one might have let us know. and you will get exactly the same sensation of being alone in the world as came to the dozen or so day-boys who bicycled through the gates that morning.Morning school at Wrykyn started at nine o'clock. of the Lower Fifth. rather to the scandal of the authorities. you might see the gravel in front of the buildings freely dotted with sprinters. A wave of reform could scarcely have swept through the houses during the night. as a general rule." said Brown. A few. Why. One plutocrat did the journey in a motor-car. "It's jolly rum. It seemed curious to these cyclists that there should be nobody about. didn't he?" "Just what I was going to ask you. saying it was on again all right. After call-over the forms proceeded to the Great Hall for prayers. A form-master has the strongest objection to being made to skip like a young ram by a boy to whom he has only the day before given a hundred lines for shuffling his feet in form.'s day row. but it was not a leading characteristic of the school. A strangely desolate feeling was in the air at nine o'clock on the Friday morning." .W. I distinctly remember him giving it out in hall that it was going to be stopped because of the O. And yet--where was everybody? Time only deepened the mystery. the only other occupant of the form-room. Wrykyn was a boarding-school for the most part. came on bicycles. looked askance when compelled by the warning toot of the horn to skip from road to pavement. like the gravel." said Willoughby. and at three minutes to nine. who. "I say. whose homes were farther away. were empty. it's just striking. Sit in the grounds of a public school any afternoon in the summer holidays. It was curious that there should be nobody about to-day. what a swindle if he did. I say. "the old man _did_ stop the holiday to-day. The form-rooms." "So should I. The cyclists looked at one another in astonishment. but it had its leaven of day-boys. though unable to interfere. however. Where _is_ everybody?" "They can't _all_ be late. trying to get in in time to answer their names." "So do I. and walked to school.

" "We were just wondering. But in the Common Room the same perplexity reigned."Hullo. And they were all very puzzled." "This is extraordinary. "Willoughby. as was his habit. and lived by himself in rooms in the town." It was the master of the Lower Fifth. and looked puzzled. Mr. "Well. I shall go to the Common Room and make inquiries. Spence as he entered. Several voices hailed Mr. Are you alone in the world too?" "Any of your boys turned up. Brown." he said. He was not a house-master. Spence told himself. there is a holiday to-day. Spence?" Mr. He walked briskly into the room. sir. and a few more were standing. I should have received some sort of intimation if it had been. Half a dozen masters were seated round the room. we don't know. Are you the only two here? Where is everybody?" "Please. Spence seated himself on the table. The usual lot who come on bikes. he stopped in his stride. We were just wondering. as he walked to the Common Room. sir. Spence. Brown?" "Only about a dozen fellows. Seeing the obvious void. Spence?" "You in the same condition as we are. sir. that this might be a possible solution of the difficulty. Spence pondered. Not a single one. "you two fellows had better go along up to Hall. here _is_ somebody." "Yes. after all." Mr." "Do you mean to say that you have seen _nobody_. sir. and the notice was not brought to me. Spence." "Have you seen nobody?" "No. "Hullo. Perhaps. as you say. It was just conceivable that they might have forgotten to tell him of the change in the arrangements." "I've heard nothing about it. sir. . sir. A brisk conversation was going on. if the holiday had been put on again. sir." "None of the boarders?" "No." Mr.

"Haven't any of your fellows turned up, either?" he said. "When I accepted the honourable post of Lower Fourth master in this abode of sin," said Mr. Seymour, "it was on the distinct understanding that there was going to be a Lower Fourth. Yet I go into my form-room this morning, and what do I find? Simply Emptiness, and Pickersgill II. whistling 'The Church Parade,' all flat. I consider I have been hardly treated." "I have no complaint to make against Brown and Willoughby, as individuals," said Mr. Spence; "but, considered as a form, I call them short measure." "I confess that I am entirely at a loss," said Mr. Shields precisely. "I have never been confronted with a situation like this since I became a schoolmaster." "It is most mysterious," agreed Mr. Wain, plucking at his beard. "Exceedingly so." The younger masters, notably Mr. Spence and Mr. Seymour, had begun to look on the thing as a huge jest. "We had better teach ourselves," said Mr. Seymour. "Spence, do a hundred lines for laughing in form." The door burst open. "Hullo, here's another scholastic Little Bo-Peep," said Mr. Seymour. "Well, Appleby, have you lost your sheep, too?" "You don't mean to tell me----" began Mr. Appleby. "I do," said Mr. Seymour. "Here we are, fifteen of us, all good men and true, graduates of our Universities, and, as far as I can see, if we divide up the boys who have come to school this morning on fair share-and-share-alike lines, it will work out at about two-thirds of a boy each. Spence, will you take a third of Pickersgill II.?" "I want none of your charity," said Mr. Spence loftily. "You don't seem to realise that I'm the best off of you all. I've got two in my form. It's no good offering me your Pickersgills. I simply haven't room for them." "What does it all mean?" exclaimed Mr. Appleby. "If you ask me," said Mr. Seymour, "I should say that it meant that the school, holding the sensible view that first thoughts are best, have ignored the head's change of mind, and are taking their holiday as per original programme." "They surely cannot----!" "Well, where are they then?" "Do you seriously mean that the entire school has--has _rebelled_?" "'Nay, sire,'" quoted Mr. Spence, "'a revolution!'"

"I never heard of such a thing!" "We're making history," said Mr. Seymour. "It will be rather interesting," said Mr. Spence, "to see how the head will deal with a situation like this. One can rely on him to do the statesman-like thing, but I'm bound to say I shouldn't care to be in his place. It seems to me these boys hold all the cards. You can't expel a whole school. There's safety in numbers. The thing is colossal." "It is deplorable," said Mr. Wain, with austerity. "Exceedingly so." "I try to think so," said Mr. Spence, "but it's a struggle. There's a Napoleonic touch about the business that appeals to one. Disorder on a small scale is bad, but this is immense. I've never heard of anything like it at any public school. When I was at Winchester, my last year there, there was pretty nearly a revolution because the captain of cricket was expelled on the eve of the Eton match. I remember making inflammatory speeches myself on that occasion. But we stopped on the right side of the line. We were satisfied with growling. But this----!" Mr. Seymour got up. "It's an ill wind," he said. "With any luck we ought to get the day off, and it's ideal weather for a holiday. The head can hardly ask us to sit indoors, teaching nobody. If I have to stew in my form-room all day, instructing Pickersgill II., I shall make things exceedingly sultry for that youth. He will wish that the Pickersgill progeny had stopped short at his elder brother. He will not value life. In the meantime, as it's already ten past, hadn't we better be going up to Hall to see what the orders of the day _are_?" "Look at Shields," said Mr. Spence. "He might be posing for a statue to be called 'Despair!' He reminds me of Macduff. _Macbeth_, Act iv., somewhere near the end. 'What, all my pretty chickens, at one fell swoop?' That's what Shields is saying to himself." "It's all very well to make a joke of it, Spence," said Mr. Shields querulously, "but it is most disturbing. Most." "Exceedingly," agreed Mr. Wain. The bereaved company of masters walked on up the stairs that led to the Great Hall.

CHAPTER XI THE CONCLUSION OF THE PICNIC If the form-rooms had been lonely, the Great Hall was doubly, trebly, so. It was a vast room, stretching from side to side of the middle block, and its ceiling soared up into a distant dome. At one end was a dais and an organ, and at intervals down the room stood long tables. The panels were covered with the names of Wrykynians who had won

scholarships at Oxford and Cambridge, and of Old Wrykynians who had taken first in Mods or Greats, or achieved any other recognised success, such as a place in the Indian Civil Service list. A silent testimony, these panels, to the work the school had done in the world. Nobody knew exactly how many the Hall could hold, when packed to its fullest capacity. The six hundred odd boys at the school seemed to leave large gaps unfilled. This morning there was a mere handful, and the place looked worse than empty. The Sixth Form were there, and the school prefects. The Great Picnic had not affected their numbers. The Sixth stood by their table in a solid group. The other tables were occupied by ones and twos. A buzz of conversation was going on, which did not cease when the masters filed into the room and took their places. Every one realised by this time that the biggest row in Wrykyn history was well under way; and the thing had to be discussed. In the Masters' library Mr. Wain and Mr. Shields, the spokesmen of the Common Room, were breaking the news to the headmaster. The headmaster was a man who rarely betrayed emotion in his public capacity. He heard Mr. Shields's rambling remarks, punctuated by Mr. Wain's "Exceedinglys," to an end. Then he gathered up his cap and gown. "You say that the whole school is absent?" he remarked quietly. Mr. Shields, in a long-winded flow of words, replied that that was what he did say. "Ah!" said the headmaster. There was a silence. "'M!" said the headmaster. There was another silence. "Ye--e--s!" said the headmaster. He then led the way into the Hall. Conversation ceased abruptly as he entered. The school, like an audience at a theatre when the hero has just appeared on the stage, felt that the serious interest of the drama had begun. There was a dead silence at every table as he strode up the room and on to the dais. There was something Titanic in his calmness. Every eye was on his face as he passed up the Hall, but not a sign of perturbation could the school read. To judge from his expression, he might have been unaware of the emptiness around him. The master who looked after the music of the school, and incidentally accompanied the hymn with which prayers at Wrykyn opened, was waiting, puzzled, at the foot of the dais. It seemed improbable that things would go on as usual, and he did not know whether he was expected to

be at the organ, or not. The headmaster's placid face reassured him. He went to his post. The hymn began. It was a long hymn, and one which the school liked for its swing and noise. As a rule, when it was sung, the Hall re-echoed. To-day, the thin sound of the voices had quite an uncanny effect. The organ boomed through the deserted room. The school, or the remnants of it, waited impatiently while the prefect whose turn it was to read stammered nervously through the lesson. They were anxious to get on to what the Head was going to say at the end of prayers. At last it was over. The school waited, all ears. The headmaster bent down from the dais and called to Firby-Smith, who was standing in his place with the Sixth. The Gazeka, blushing warmly, stepped forward. "Bring me a school list, Firby-Smith," said the headmaster. The Gazeka was wearing a pair of very squeaky boots that morning. They sounded deafening as he walked out of the room. The school waited. Presently a distant squeaking was heard, and Firby-Smith returned, bearing a large sheet of paper. The headmaster thanked him, and spread it out on the reading-desk. Then, calmly, as if it were an occurrence of every day, he began to call the roll. "Abney." No answer. "Adams." No answer. "Allenby." "Here, sir," from a table at the end of the room. Allenby was a prefect, in the Science Sixth. The headmaster made a mark against his name with a pencil. "Arkwright." No answer. He began to call the names more rapidly. "Arlington. Arthur. Ashe. Aston." "Here, sir," in a shrill treble from the rider in motorcars. The headmaster made another tick.

The list came to an end after what seemed to the school an unconscionable time, and he rolled up the paper again, and stepped to the edge of the dais. "All boys not in the Sixth Form," he said, "will go to their form-rooms and get their books and writing-materials, and return to the Hall." ("Good work," murmured Mr. Seymour to himself. "Looks as if we should get that holiday after all.") "The Sixth Form will go to their form-room as usual. I should like to speak to the masters for a moment." He nodded dismissal to the school. The masters collected on the daÃ‾s. "I find that I shall not require your services to-day," said the headmaster. "If you will kindly set the boys in your forms some work that will keep them occupied, I will look after them here. It is a lovely day," he added, with a smile, "and I am sure you will all enjoy yourselves a great deal more in the open air." "That," said Mr. Seymour to Mr. Spence, as they went downstairs, "is what I call a genuine sportsman." "My opinion neatly expressed," said Mr. Spence. "Come on the river. Or shall we put up a net, and have a knock?" "River, I think. Meet you at the boat-house." "All right. Don't be long." "If every day were run on these lines, school-mastering wouldn't be such a bad profession. I wonder if one could persuade one's form to run amuck as a regular thing." "Pity one can't. It seems to me the ideal state of things. Ensures the greatest happiness of the greatest number." "I say! Suppose the school has gone up the river, too, and we meet them! What shall we do?" "Thank them," said Mr. Spence, "most kindly. They've done us well." The school had not gone up the river. They had marched in a solid body, with the school band at their head playing Sousa, in the direction of Worfield, a market town of some importance, distant about five miles. Of what they did and what the natives thought of it all, no very distinct records remain. The thing is a tradition on the countryside now, an event colossal and heroic, to be talked about in the tap-room of the village inn during the long winter evenings. The papers got hold of it, but were curiously misled as to the nature of the demonstration. This was the fault of the reporter on the staff of the _Worfield Intelligencer and Farmers' Guide_, who saw in the thing a legitimate "march-out," and, questioning a straggler as to the reason for the expedition and gathering foggily that the restoration to health of the Eminent Person was at the bottom of it, said so in

In the early afternoon they rested. At the school gates only a handful were left. * * * * * At the school. each house claiming its representatives. singing the school song." That was the supreme moment in mine host's life. faintly. it melted away little by little. And there was the usual conversation between "a rosy-cheeked lad of some sixteen summers" and "our representative. the staff of the "Grasshopper and Ant" bustled about. and apples. Wyatt. please. sir?" inquired the landlord politely. or the confusion in the narrow streets would have been hopeless. and headed it "Loyal Schoolboys. "I want lunch for five hundred and fifty. as generalissimo of the expedition. They descended on the place like an army of locusts. and he always ended with the words.his paper. And two days later. As the army drew near to the school. who seemed to be a warm personal friend of his. He always told that as his best story. Presently the sounds grew more distinct. And the army lunched sumptuously." said Wyatt. those on the grounds heard the strains of the school band and a murmur of many voices." the leading inn of the town. at about the time when Retribution had got seriously to work. the _Daily Mail_ reprinted the account." in which the rosy-cheeked one spoke most kindly of the head-master. walked into the "Grasshopper and Ant. he arranged a system of officers which effectually controlled the animal spirits of the rank and file. "Yes. there was wonderfully little damage done to property. and as evening began to fall. A spirit of martial law reigned over the Great Picnic. as the garrison of Lucknow heard the first skirl of the pipes of the relieving force. The prompt and decisive way in which rioters were dealt with during the earlier stages of the business proved a wholesome lesson to others who would have wished to have gone and done likewise. And towards the end of the day fatigue kept the rowdy-minded quiet. the march home was started. It is astonishing that the resources of the little town were equal to satisfying the needs of the picnickers. Private citizens rallied round with bread. Considering that five hundred and fifty boys were ranging the country in a compact mass. fortunately. Wyatt's genius did not stop short at organising the march. net practice was just coming to an end when. The remarkable thing about the Great Picnic was its orderliness. It was not a market-day. At Worfield the expedition lunched. Other inns were called upon for help. jam. with comments and elaborations. They looked weary but cheerful. On ordinary days Worfield was more or less deserted." The writer said that great credit was due to the headmaster of Wrykyn for his ingenuity in devising and organising so novel a thanksgiving celebration. In addition. "Anything I can do for you. and up the Wrykyn road came marching the vanguard of the column. . "You could ha' knocked me down with a feather!" The first shock over. It was his big subject of conversation ever afterwards.

baffled by the magnitude of the thing." "What do you mean? Why didn't he say anything about it in Hall. To lie low is always a shrewd piece of tactics. Prayers on the Saturday morning were marked by no unusual features. "Hullo. There were no impassioned addresses from the dais. a stir of excitement when he came to the edge of the dais. The less astute of the picnickers. It seemed plain to them that the headmaster. and there seemed no reason why the Head should not have decided on it in the present instance. isn't it! He's funked it." he chuckled. Neville-Smith was among these premature rejoicers. All streets except the High Street will in consequence be out of bounds till further notice. and gazed at him. met Wyatt at the gate. thought the school. He did not tell the school that it ought to be ashamed of itself. speechless. I thought he would. and cleared his throat as a preliminary to making an announcement. It hasn't started yet." CHAPTER XII MIKE GETS HIS CHANCE The headmaster was quite bland and business-like about it all." He then gave the nod of dismissal. But it came all . Finds the job too big to tackle. walking back to Donaldson's. "it's not over yet by a long chalk." Wyatt was damping. This was the announcement. overtaking Wyatt in the cloisters. "My dear chap. Nor did he say that he should never have thought it of them. There was." said Wyatt. then?" "Why should he? Have you ever had tick at a shop?" "Of course I have. What do you mean? Why?" "Well.Bob Jackson. were openly exulting. indeed." he said. they didn't send in the bill right away. unmindful of the homely proverb about hallooing before leaving the wood. marvelling. "been to the nets? I wonder if there's time for a ginger-beer before the shop shuts. The school streamed downstairs. had resolved to pursue the safe course of ignoring it altogether. Now for it. "I say. "this is all right. "There has been an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town.

"The following boys will go in to extra lesson this afternoon and next Wednesday. and post them outside the school shop." "How do you mean?" "We got tanned. as he read the huge scroll. used to copy out the names of those who were in extra lesson. The headmaster had acted. He lowers all records. It was a comprehensive document. rushing to the shop for its midday bun. You wait. the school sergeant. You wouldn't have if you'd been me. They surged round it. I was one of the first to get it." Wyatt was right. Only the bigger fellows. To-day. the school was aware of a vast sheet of paper where usually there was but a small one." said Mike ruefully. * * * * * Wyatt met Mike after school." said Clowes." "Thanks." it began. then?" "Rather. He was quite fresh. I notice." said Mike. "What!" "Yes." "Glad you think it funny. I'm glad you got off. "I don't know what you call getting off." "Do you think he's going to do something. It left out little." . "Bates must have got writer's cramp. It seems to me you're the chaps who got off. The school inspected the list during the quarter to eleven interval. Between ten and eleven on Wednesdays and Saturdays old Bates.right." he said. who was walking a little stiffly. What was it? Then the meaning of the notice flashed upon them." Wyatt roared with laughter. I never saw such a man. Rather a good thing. as they went back to the house. "he is an old sportsman. And "the following boys" numbered four hundred. Everybody below the Upper Fourth." "Sting?" "Should think it did. Buns were forgotten. "None of the kids are in it. "By Gad. swollen with names as a stream swells with rain. "Seen the 'extra' list?" he remarked. This bloated document was the extra lesson list.

" "I say. nobody can say I didn't ask for it. especially as he's a bowler himself. "it's awfully decent of you. But there'll be several vacancies. who seemed to be sufficiently in earnest. making a century in record time). like everybody else. Probably Druce." "I should be awfully sick. He had his day-dreams. it would be a little rough on him to curse him when he does it. you're better off than I am. You'll probably get my place in the team." said Wyatt seriously." continued Wyatt. match. one of the places." "Oh. I should think they'd give you a chance. "I'm not rotting. incidentally.C. Don't break down. by Jove! I forgot. I don't blame him either. overcome. "I'll suggest it to Burgess to-night. rather. and they always took the form of playing for the first eleven (and. that's the lot. "Or. Burgess is simply mad on fielding. "All right. captain of Wrykyn cricket. "I don't see why not? Buck up in the scratch game this afternoon. "It is when it happens to come on the same day as the M. Anyhow. buck up. Any more? No. The present was one of the rare . Fielding especially." "You don't think there's any chance of it. really. rather. So you field like a demon this afternoon. and I'll carry on the good work in the evening." "You needn't rot. Wyatt." "Well." said Mike indignantly. what rot!" "It is. isn't it? You won't be able to play!" "No." said Mike. Ashe. do you?" said Mike awkwardly." said Mike uncomfortably.C. who seldom allowed himself to be ruffled. it isn't you." "I'm not breaking down." Mike smiled dutifully at what he supposed to be a humorous sally." * * * * * Billy Burgess. Adams. if it were me. so you're all right. He'd shove a man into the team like a shot." said Mike. To have to listen while the subject was talked about lightly made him hot and prickly all over." "An extra's nothing much. Me. Still. Let's see. If one goes out of one's way to beg and beseech the Old Man to put one in extra. if his fielding was something extra special. whatever his batting was like. was a genial giant."Well. "They'll put a bowler in instead of me. I thought you weren't." "I say. That's next Wednesday.

What were you saying?" "Why not play young Jackson for the first?" "Too small. "Dear old Billy!" said Wyatt. Then he returned to the attack. "Eight. He's as tall as I am.. I'd like to tie you and Ashe and that blackguard Adams up in a big sack.. Why the deuce fellows can't hold catches when . he isn't small. I will say that for him. Dash. "What? Are you sitting on my left shoe?" "No. shortly before lock-up." Wyatt waited patiently till he had retrieved it. There it is in the corner. and let's be friends. "The fact is. Dropped a sitter off me to-day. "You rotter! You rotter! You _worm_!" he observed crisply." "You haven't got a mind. That's your trouble." "Rot. give me a kiss. like the soldier in Shakespeare. on Wednesday?" said Wyatt. and drop you into the river." "Why don't you play him against the M.occasions on which he permitted himself that luxury. "I'm awfully sorry." "Old Bob can't field for toffee.C. I was on the spot. That kid's good. jumping at his opportunity." "Right ho!. Young Jackson caught a hot one off me at third man. "He's as good a bat as his brother. I've dropped my stud. For a hundred and three. "You've got a cheap brown paper substitute." "You----!" "William! William!" "If it wasn't illegal. "How many wickets did you get to-day?" he asked. and a better field. What does size matter? Cricket isn't footer." said Wyatt." He struggled into his shirt--he was changing after a bath--and his face popped wrathfully out at the other end." Wyatt turned the conversation tactfully.C. in the excitement of the moment the M." grumbled Burgess." "I suppose he is. as Wyatt appeared. Wyatt found him in his study. match went clean out of my mind. "Come on.C. What do you mean by letting the team down like this? I know you were at the bottom of it all. full of strange oaths. Besides. And I'd jump on the sack first.C. Bill.

For. Burgess. there is a curious. The bell went ages ago. Wyatt. And don't forget what I said about the grandchildren. and pat half-volleys back to the bowler! Do you realise that your only chance of being known to Posterity is as the man who gave M. better .C. The only signs of life are a few pedestrians on the road beyond the railings and one or two blazer and flannel-clad forms in the pavilion. "I'll think it over. Better stick to the men at the top of the second. So long." "Good. gassing to your grandchildren. how you 'discovered' M. just above the W. and you'll think it a favour if he nods to you in the pav. at Lord's." he said." he said. it's a bit risky. "With you three lunatics out of the team we can't afford to try many experiments. Jackson his colours at Wrykyn? In a few years he'll be playing for England. and his heart missed a beat. B. "You know." * * * * * On the Monday morning Mike passed the notice-board just as Burgess turned away from pinning up the list of the team to play the M. "Can't you _see_ when you've got a good man? Here's this kid waiting for you ready made with a style like Trumper's. That kid's a genius at cricket. and you rave about top men in the second." Burgess hesitated.C. wouldn't you? Very well. MATCH If the day happens to be fine. It'll be the only thing they'll respect you for.they drop slowly into their mouths I'm hanged if I can see. even Joe." "You play him. and kicked the wall as a vent for his feelings. was a name that leaped from the paper at him. Everything seems hushed and expectant. then. bottom but one. You would like little Wyatt Burgess and the other little Burgesses to respect you in your old age. chaps who play forward at everything. and a school team usually bats 25 per cent. Jackson.C. Frightful gift of the gab you've got. The rest of the school have gone in after the interval at eleven o'clock. I shall be locked out. He read it.C." said Wyatt. "Think it over. dream-like atmosphere about the opening stages of a first eleven match. and you are alone on the grounds with a cricket-bag." Wyatt stopped for breath. poor kids. Give him a shot. The sense of isolation is trying to the nerves. When you're a white-haired old man you'll go doddering about." Wyatt got up. His own name. "Just give him a trial. CHAPTER XIII THE M." said Wyatt. "All right. He's going to be better than any of his brothers. "You rotter." said Burgess.

C." said Saunders. the lost. and I got one of the places. He could almost have cried with pure fright. team came down the steps. you don't mean to say you're playing for the school already?" Mike nodded happily. He had almost reached the pavilion when one of the M. and walked him off in the direction of a man in a Zingari blazer who was bowling slows to another of the . hopeless feeling left Mike. and stopped dead. I'm only playing as a sub. to wait. Three chaps are in extra." he chuckled.. Hullo. you'll make a hundred to-day. "Joe! Has he really? How ripping! Hullo. "Why." he said. isn't he." "Well." said Saunders. Bob had shouted after him from a window as he passed Donaldson's." "Wish I could!" "Master Joe's come down with the Club." "Of course. and quite suddenly. Saunders?" "He is. "Why. you know. so that they could walk over together. Only wants the strength. Master Mike!" The professional beamed. Saunders slapped his leg in a sort of ecstasy. He stopped short.after lunch. but conversation was the last thing Mike desired at that moment. I'm hanged! Young marvel. as Saunders had done. He felt as cheerful as if he and Saunders had met in the meadow at home. sir.C. and then they'll have to put you in. where he had changed. Master Joe. Joe?" The greatest of all the Jacksons was descending the pavilion steps with the gravity befitting an All England batsman. Master Mike. "Mike! You aren't playing!" "Yes. sir. "By Jove. "Wasn't I right? I used to say to myself it 'ud be a pretty good school team that 'ud leave you out. feeling quite hollow. "Got all the strokes." Joe took Mike by the shoulder. I always said it." "Well. Mike walked across from Wain's. here he is. saw him. and were just going to begin a little quiet net-practice. when the strangeness has worn off. Master Mike. "Didn't I always say it. "Isn't it ripping. Saunders!" cried Mike.

but Bob fumbled it. It was the easiest of slip-catches. Burgess's yorker was nearly too much for the latter in the first over. For himself. The M. and the pair gradually settled down. You are only ten. "Do you think I don't know the elementary duties of a captain?" * * * * * The school went out to field with mixed feelings. just when things seemed most hopeless. It seemed for one instant as if the move had been a success. And. relief came.C. On the other hand. Joe began to open his shoulders. but he is. . for Joe." "I _have_ won the toss. One of those weary periods followed when the batsman's defence seems to the fieldsmen absolutely impregnable. not to mention the other first-class men. almost held it a second time. "Probably too proud to own the relationship. and Mike's been brought up on Saunders.w. He rolled the ball back to the bowler in silence. The beginning of the game was quiet. the sooner he got hold of the ball and began to bowl the better he liked it.b. but he contrived to chop it away. and playing for the school.M. was not a side to which he would have preferred to give away an advantage. and hoping that nothing would come his way. The wicket was hard and true. Mike was feeling that by no possibility could he hold the simplest catch. You wait till he gets at us to-day. "What do you think of this?" said Joe. aren't you. conscious of being an uncertain field.C. and was l. Mike?" "Brother of yours?" asked the wicket-keeper. It was a moment too painful for words. Saunders is our only bowler. You'd better win the toss if you want a chance of getting a knock and lifting your average out of the minuses. and finally let it fall miserably to the ground. There was a sickening inevitableness in the way in which every ball was played with the very centre of the bat. sorry as a captain.C. At twenty. Mike recognised him with awe as one of the three best amateur wicket-keepers in the country. which would have made it pleasant to be going in first. opened with Joe and a man in an Oxford Authentic cap. team. and Burgess tried a change of bowling. they would feel decidedly better and fitter for centuries after the game had been in progress an hour or so. and snicked it straight into Bob's hands at second slip. was feeling just the same. "Aged ten last birthday. still taking risks. he realised that a side with Joe Jackson on it. dropped it. as usual. tried to late-cut a rising ball.C. Bob. And the next ball upset the newcomer's leg stump. who grinned bashfully. exhibiting Mike. getting in front of his wicket. to pull one of the simplest long-hops ever seen on a cricket field. missed it. The Authentic." "Isn't there any end to you Jacksons?" demanded the wicket-keeper in an aggrieved tone. Twenty became forty with disturbing swiftness. As a captain." said the other with dignity. "I never saw such a family. Burgess was glad as a private individual." "This is our star.

as usual. and the fieldsmen retired to posts at the extreme edge of the ground. I wish I was in. The hundred went up at five o'clock. the hundred and fifty at half-past.C. "Lobs. the school first pair. and at the other was the great wicket-keeper. but on a fine day it was not an unusual total for the Wrykyn eleven. But from the end of school till lunch things went very wrong indeed. His second hit had just lifted the M. third-change bowlers had been put on.C. "By Jove. Both batsmen were completely at home. and only last season had massacred a very weak team of Old Wrykynians with a score that only just missed the fourth hundred. A long stand at cricket is a soothing sight to watch. It was a quarter to four when the innings began. Two hundred went up. with never a chance or a mishit to vary the monotony. and was stumped next ball. a little on the slow side. the end was very near. Four after four. After this. the first-wicket man. Following out this courageous advice. Berridge. unless the bowling happened to get completely collared. When the bell rang for the end of morning school. Another wicket--two stumps knocked out of the ground by Burgess--helped the thing on. and two hundred and fifty. rather somnolent feeling settled upon the school. Then the great wicket-keeper took off the pads and gloves. * * * * * Three hundred is a score that takes some making on any ground. and when the wicket-keeper was run out at length for a lively sixty-three. but exceedingly hard to shift.C. five wickets were down for a hundred and thirteen. and stumps were to be drawn at a quarter to seven. Runs came with fair regularity. was a thoroughly sound bat. against Ripton. was optimistic." he said to Berridge and Marsh. on the present occasion. The rest of the innings was like the gentle rain after the thunderstorm. there was scarcely time. Then Joe reached his century. "Better have a go for them. however. Unfortunately. He and Marsh proceeded to play themselves in. hit two boundaries.C. Burgess." said Burgess. all round the wicket. and the M. they had run up four hundred and sixteen. Joe was still in at one end. to make the runs. invincible. Saunders. but wickets fell at intervals. And the pair of them suddenly began to force the pace till the bowling was in a tangled knot. A comfortable. was stumped half-way through the third. Then came lunch. A hundred an hour is quick work. Morris. total over the three hundred. coming in last. There was an absence of hurry about the batsmen which harmonised well with the drowsy summer afternoon. Bowlers and field were infused with a new life. And yet runs were coming at a fair pace. Some years before. until it looked as if they were likely to stay till the drawing of stumps.The school revived. things settled down." It seemed to be the general opinion among the members of the Wrykyn . and was then caught by Mike. after hitting three boundaries in his first two overs.

He had refused to be tempted. who had gone on to bowl again after a rest. because they had earned it. Lobs are the most dangerous. was disagreeably surprised to find it break in instead. with instructions to keep his eye on the lob-man. Yet nearly everybody does get out to them." he added to Mike. Bob had fallen to the last ball of the over. For a time things went well. He was jogging on steadily to his century. Bob Jackson went in next." said Burgess. It was his turn next. letting alone a ball wide of the off-stump under the impression that it was going to break away. Mike's heart jumped as he saw the bails go.. At last he arrived. Stick in. and get the thing over. standing ready for Saunders's delivery. He heard miles and miles away a sound of clapping. fumbling at a glove. seemed to give Morris no trouble. By the time the scoring-board registered two hundred. as usual. The first over yielded six runs. Marsh hit an over-pitched one along the ground to the terrace bank. and Morris. Bob. As a matter of fact. His heart was racing like the engines of a motor. he felt better. What a time Bob was taking to get back to the pavilion! He wanted to rush out. Mike felt as if he was being strangled. Everybody knows that the man who is content not to try to score more than a single cannot get out to them. yet he seemed to be absolutely undisturbed. The next ball he swept round to the leg boundary. Off the last ball he was stumped by several feet. No good trying for the runs now. The team did not grudge them their good fortune. And that was the end of Marsh. and Bob put him through the slips with apparent ease. Everybody knows in theory the right way to treat them. He wished he could stop them. shrill noise as if somebody were screaming in the distance. having done himself credit by scoring seventy. as if he hated to have to do these things. Ellerby left at a hundred and eighty-six. Marsh's wicket had fallen at a hundred and eighty. Twenty runs were added." All!. "and it's ten past six. and he supposed that Morris knew that he was very near his century. by a series of disasters. and a thin. The bowler smiled sadly. tottered out into the sunshine. Morris was still in at one end. and Mike. but they were distinctly envious. In the second. . insinuating things in the world. He knew his teeth were chattering. Mike knew that Morris had made ninety-eight. Mike drew courage from his attitude. several members of his form and of the junior day-room at Wain's nearly burst themselves at that moment. and hit the wicket. five wickets were down. three of them victims to the lobs. It was the same story to-day. He saw himself scoring at the rate of twenty-four an over. Saunders. "Two hundred and twenty-nine. "That's all you've got to do. all through gentle taps along the ground. looked so calm and certain of himself that it was impossible to feel entirely without hope and self-confidence. The long stand was followed. when the lob-bowler once more got in his deadly work. At the wickets..eleven on the pavilion balcony that Morris and Marsh were in luck.

There was only Reeves to follow him. but he himself must simply stay in. Twice he was given full tosses to leg." said the umpire. Half-past six chimed. Sometimes a drive. sometimes a cut. Now. and you can't get out. "Play straight. which he hit to the terrace bank. The moment had come. All nervousness had left him. Burgess had to hit because it was the only game he knew. Even the departure of Morris. the school was shouting. and invariably hit a boundary. The bowling became a shade loose. did not disturb him. Burgess continued to hit. It is useless to speculate as to whether he was trying to bowl his best that ball." It was Joe. it was Mike's first appearance for the school. bowled the very best ball that he possibly could. It was like Marjory and the dogs waiting by made a drive. and Reeves was a victim to the first straight ball." said a voice. "To leg. It was a half-volley. who had taken the gloves when the wicket-keeper went on to bowl. he failed signally.Morris pushed the first ball away to leg. Saunders bowled no more half-volleys. skips and the jump.. caught in the slips off Saunders's next over for a chanceless hundred and five. and began to hit out as if he meant to knock off the runs. And in the dreams he was always full of confidence. with the railings to fetch the ball if he Saunders ran to the crease. He felt equal to the situation. Mike grinned. Burgess came in. extra-cover was trotting to the boundary to fetch the ball. and Saunders. and. Mike would have liked to have run two. He met the lobs with a bat like a barn-door. sir. besides being conscientious. If so. the moment which he had experienced only in dreams. just the right distance away from the off-stump. Saunders was beginning his run. On the other hand. The hands of the clock seemed to have stopped. Mike's whole soul was concentrated on keeping up his wicket. and two hundred and fifty went up on the telegraph board. moment Mike felt himself again. wryly but gratefully. doubtless. was undoubtedly kind-hearted. It was all so home-like that for a How often he had seen those two little being in the paddock again.. the sort of ball Mike was wont to send nearly through the net at home. Then suddenly he heard the umpire say "Last over. "Don't be in a funk. The next moment the dreams had come true.. The umpire was signalling to the scoring-box. but Mike played everything that he did bowl. Saunders was a conscientious man. From that ball onwards all was for the best in this best of all possible worlds. . and bowled. but always a boundary. and Mike was blushing and wondering whether it was bad form to grin. but short leg had retrieved the ball as he reached the crease." and he settled down to keep those six balls out of his wicket.

jumping. "You are a promising man. They might mean anything from "Well. It hummed over his head. and a great howl of delight went up from the school as the umpire took off the bails. Joe. as many a good man had done before him. match. here you are.C.C. just failed to reach it. Mike walked away from the wickets with Joe and the wicket-keeper. was not a person who ever became gushing with enthusiasm. That meant. and the Oxford Authentic had gone on. Got him! Three: straight half-volley. and missed the wicket by an inch. The first ball was short and wide of the off-stump. Mike played it back to the bowler. You won't get any higher." said the wicket-keeper." said Burgess." CHAPTER XIV A SLIGHT IMBROGLIO Mike got his third eleven colours after the M. Four: beat him. Down on it again in the old familiar way. But in a few years I'm afraid it's going to be put badly out of joint." But Burgess. to Burgess after the match. and we have our eye on you." said the wicket-keeper in tones of grave solicitude. at the last ball. The match was a draw now whatever happened to him. "I told you so." said Wyatt. One had to take the rungs of the ladder singly at Wrykyn. "I'll give him another shot. But it was all that he expected. against the Gentlemen of the County.The lob bowler had taken himself off. * * * * * So Wilkins. "He's not bad. But it needed more than one performance to secure the first cap. "What's wrong with it?" "At present. He hit out. First one was given one's third eleven cap. naturally. almost at a venture." Then came the second colours. however gentlemanly. fast left-hand. of the School House. "nothing. All was well. the visiting team. and mid-off. who had played twice for the first eleven. and Mike got his place in the next match. dropped down into the second." Mike was a certainty now for the second. and ran like a streak along the turf and up the bank. as has been pointed out. Unfortunately for him. Mike let it alone. this may not seem an excessive reward. As he had made twenty-three not out in a crisis in a first eleven match. at any rate as far . "I'm sorry about your nose. were not brilliant cricketers." to "This is just to show that we still have our eye on you. Five: another yorker. so you may as well have the thing now. Number two: yorker.

The next link in the chain was forged a week after the Gentlemen of the County match. It happened in this way. For some ten minutes all was peace. Mike went in first wicket. and was then caught at cover. getting here and there a single and now and then a two. In an innings which lasted for one over he made two runs. He was enjoying life amazingly. of the third eleven. and made three hundred and sixteen for five wickets. See? That's all. . having summoned him to his study for the purpose. and Wain's were playing Appleby's. and Marsh all passing the half-century. was the tactful speech which he addressed to him on the evening of the M. Mike pounded it vigorously. supported by some small change. as is not uncommon with the prosperous. and was thoroughly set. who was one of those lucky enough to have an unabridged innings. The immediate cause of the disturbance was a remark of Mike's. But with Morris making a hundred and bowling was concerned. "Come on. hit one in the direction of cover-point. Ellerby. With anybody else the thing might have blown over. mind you don't go getting swelled head. match. but Firby-Smith. he waxed fat and kicked. was captain of the side. The fact that he was playing for the school seemed to make no difference at all." Mike departed." he shouted. The person he selected was Firby-Smith. and he and Wyatt went in first. And the Gazeka badly wanted that single. did better in this match. and Berridge. and. made a fuss. with Raikes. eh? Well. Run along. and Mike settled down at once to play what he felt was going to be the innings of a lifetime. and had to console himself for the cutting short of his performance by the fact that his average for the school was still infinity. Firby-Smith continued to address Mike merely as the small boy. Raikes possessed few subtleties. Fortunately for him--though he did not look upon it in that light at the time--he kicked the one person it was most imprudent to kick. The Gazeka. as the star. The following. There is no doubt that his meteor-like flights at cricket had an unsettling effect on him. and I suppose you're frightfully pleased with yourself. Firby-Smith scratched away at his end. Wyatt made a few mighty hits." he said. Morris making another placid century. _verbatim_. not out. as head of the house. making twenty-five. The innings was declared closed before Mike had a chance of distinguishing himself. Bob. House matches had begun. having the most tender affection for his dignity. went in first. Then Wain's opened their innings. prancing down the pitch. To one who had been brought up on Saunders. to the detriment of Mike's character. He had made seventeen. when the Gazeka. Appleby's made a hundred and fifty odd. who had the bowling.C. shaping badly for the most part against Wyatt's slows. bursting with fury. The school won the toss. We now come to what was practically a turning-point in Mike's career at Wrykyn. "Well. With a certain type of batsman a single is a thing to take big risks for. "you played a very decent innings this afternoon.C. Appleby's bowling was on the feeble side. this score did not show up excessively. but the indirect cause was the unbearably patronising manner which the head of Wain's chose to adopt towards him.

avoided him. could adequately avenge his lacerated dignity. and lick him. Burgess. He avoided Mike on his return to the trees." he said. you grinning ape!" he cried." he said." he said reprovingly." Burgess looked incredulous." "What about him?" "He's been frightfully insolent. Firby-Smith did not grovel.Mike. miss it. feeling now a little apprehensive. Firby-Smith arrived. YOU GRINNING APE"] He then made for the trees where the rest of the team were sitting. "It has to be a pretty serious sort of thing for that. besides being captain of the eleven. moved forward in a startled and irresolute manner. And only a prefects' meeting. a prefects' meeting. And Mike. "I want you to call a prefects' meeting. He was the man who arranged prefects' meetings. The world swam before Mike's eyes." [Illustration: "DON'T _LAUGH_. cover having thrown the ball in. The Gazeka brooded apart for the rest of the afternoon. and be bowled next ball made the wound rankle. Mike's shaft sank in deeply. "I want to speak to you. a man of simple speech. "You know young Jackson in our house. "What's up?" said Burgess. shouting "Run!" and. Through the red mist he could see Firby-Smith's face. "Don't _laugh_. thought Firby-Smith. Now Firby-Smith not only possessed rather prominent teeth. The fact that emotion caused him to swipe at a straight half-volley." . was also head of the school. who had remained in his crease with the idea that nobody even moderately sane would attempt a run for a hit like that. The sun glinted on his rather prominent teeth." "Cheeked you?" said Burgess. chewing the insult. "It isn't funny. he was also sensitive on the subject. At close of play he sought Burgess. "Rather a large order. the wicket-keeper removed the bails. The only possible way of smoothing over an episode of this kind is for the guilty man to grovel. "Easy run there. To Mike's distorted vision it seemed that the criminal was amused. Burgess. These are solemn moments. you know.

It was only fair that Bob should be told. and Bob's name did not appear on that list. He knew what it felt like to be run out just when one had got set. officially he was bound to support the head of Wain's. Bob was one of his best friends.C. For that morning he had posted up the list of the team to play for the school against Geddington." "He's frightfully conceited. And the worst of it was that he sympathised with Mike. look here. "Yes. . Here was he. therefore. It became necessary. with the air of one uttering an epigram. "Well. Still." he said meditatively. Bob was a person he did not particularly wish to see just then. And here was another grievance against fate. were strong this year at batting. Burgess was as rigidly conscientious as the captain of a school eleven should be." said Firby-Smith. I mean--A prefects' meeting. to judge from the weekly reports in the _Sportsman_ and _Field_. he's a decent kid. And either Mike or Bob must be the man. Burgess started to laugh. and particularly the M." "Oh. Prefects must stand together or chaos will come. "Rather thick. It's not the sort of thing to rush through without thinking about it. On the other hand. and let you know to-morrow. but he thought the thing over. to drop a batsman out of the team in favour of a bowler. Geddington. I'll think it over. I suppose--What did he say to you?" Firby-Smith related the painful details.C. one of the four schools which Wrykyn met at cricket. well--Well. had given Burgess the idea that Wrykyn was weak at bowling. In the first place. and he knew exactly how maddening the Gazeka's manner would be on such an occasion. match. the results of the last few matches. and he would have given much to be able to put him in the team. CHAPTER XV MIKE CREATES A VACANCY Burgess walked off the ground feeling that fate was not using him well." And the matter was left temporarily at that. a well-meaning youth who wanted to be on good terms with all the world. Rather like crushing a thingummy with a what-d'you-call-it. but turned the laugh into a cough. as the nearest of kin. Several things had contributed to that melancholy omission. being jockeyed into slaughtering a kid whose batting he admired and whom personally he liked. Bob occurred to him."Frightful cheek to a school prefect is a serious thing. He thought he would talk it over with somebody. Besides. In the second place. anyhow.

You know how to put a thing nicely. "Prefects' meeting! What the dickens is up? What's he been doing? Smith must be drunk. Burgess felt very self-conscious as he entered Bob's study." continued Burgess gloomily. "Busy. "Sickening thing being run out.' Billy. dark. took his place. It is awkward having to meet your best friend after you have dropped him from the team. What's all the row about?" Burgess repeated the main facts of the case as he had them from Firby-Smith. "Personally. I sympathise with the kid. "Take a pew. "Still." suggested Burgess." "It's awfully awkward. What's Mike been up to?" "It's that old fool the Gazeka. thanks. "Hullo. can't you? This is me. "Silly young idiot." "Well. Bob was bad." he added. and was rather glad that he had a topic of conversation ready to hand. So out Bob had gone. He came to me frothing with rage. and Neville-Smith. Don't these studies get beastly hot this weather. the man. you can. At batting there was not much to choose between the two. with a cheerfulness rather over-done in his anxiety to show Burgess." "I suppose so. that he did not hold him responsible in any way for the distressing acts of Burgess. Bob." he said. you know. a fair fast bowler at all times and on his day dangerous. It's rather hard to see what to do. though he's your brother----" "Thanks for the 'though. the captain.and put the temptation sturdily behind him. the Gazeka _is_ a prefect----" Bob gnawed a pen-holder morosely. These clashings of public duty with private inclination are the drawbacks to the despotic position of captain of cricket at a public school. The tall. Mike was good. one's bound to support him. There's some ginger-beer in the cupboard. Bob?" he asked. "Still----" "I know." . look here. and wanted me to call a prefects' meeting and touch young Mike up. and it is difficult to talk to him as if nothing had happened. but in fielding there was a great deal." Bob displayed interest and excitement for the first time. but he _is_ an ass. I suppose if the Gazeka insists. sitting over here. "that ass of a young brother of yours--Sorry. Have some?" "No. handsome chap. I want to see you. I say." said Bob.

" he said. go and ask him to drop the business. He hadn't had time to get over it when he saw me. that frightful young brother of yours----" "I know." Firby-Smith looked a little blank at this. Not for a chap who curses a fellow who runs him out. I don't know. Seeing Bob. I'm a prefect. "You see it now. Prefects' lickings aren't meant for that sort of thing. and for an instant the idea of going to Geddington with the team. as he would certainly do if Mike did not play. aren't you? Well. He found that outraged hero sitting moodily in his study like Achilles in his tent. "Look here." . Not much good lugging the prefects into it. "Well. apart from everything else." emended the aggrieved party. One cannot help one's thoughts. He wants kicking." he said. is there? I mean. you're not a bad sort. "I didn't think of you. Bob went across to Wain's to interview and soothe Firby-Smith. I know. "I thought you hadn't. Bob. thanking his stars that he had won through a confoundedly awkward business. "I say. I can easily talk all right in a second if he's treated the now. and that I'll kick him out of the team for the Geddington match. he became all animation." said Bob. having to sit there and look on. nothing--I mean. By now he'll have simmered down a bit. too. He gets right way. you know. though. don't you?" Firby-Smith returned to the original grievance." It was a difficult moment for Bob. "Burgess was telling me. You must play the the old Gazeka over." said Bob. Look here. you're a pal of his. Say you'll curse your brother and make him apologise. He had a great admiration for Bob. you know. They're supposed to be for kids who steal buns at the shop or muck about generally. "I that sort. But he recovered himself. "I wanted to see you." he said." "He wants a frightful licking from the prefects." he said. You know. don't see there's a need for anything of best side you've got. would it be. I'll go and do it Burgess looked miserable. made him waver. "Don't do that. "Yes?" "Oh. there's just a chance Firby-Smith won't press the thing. I tell you what." With which glowing eulogy he dashed out of the room. not much of a catch for me."Awful rot.

he. With Mike he had always tried to form an alliance. and went to find Mike. "What d'you think he'll do?" had induced a very chastened frame of mind. He was not inclined to be critical. though without success. and the distinctly discouraging replies of those experts in school law to whom he had put the question. had not omitted to lay stress on the importance of Bob's intervention. of Donaldson's. and owed him many grudges. Reflection. He perceived that he had walked very nearly into a hornets' nest." "Thanks. The apology to the Gazeka was made without reserve. would have been prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the law. in the course of his address. of course." "Thanks. But for Bob. He wished he could find some way of repaying him. there's that. he gave him to understand." "Yes. Still. after the manner of a stage "excited crowd. * * * * * The lecture on deportment which he read that future All-England batsman in a secluded passage near the junior day-room left the latter rather limp and exceedingly meek. it was an enemy of Bob's who suggested the way--Burton. He realised that Bob had done him a good turn. fourteen years of age. Burton was a slippery young gentleman. He was a punctured balloon. For the moment all the jauntiness and exuberance had been drained out of him. and sent him up to you to apologise--How would that do?" "All right. All he wanted was to get the thing done with. and unburdened his soul to him." "No. most of all." said Burton. Mike's all right. It chanced that Bob and he had had another small encounter immediately after breakfast. you know."Well. I think if I saw him and cursed him. say-no-more-about-it-but-take care-in-future air of the head of the house roused no spark of resentment in him. All right then. Mike came away with a confused picture in his mind of a horde of furious prefects bent on his slaughter. "I'm jolly glad you're playing for the first against Geddington. he felt grateful to Bob. so subdued was his fighting spirit. and Burton felt revengeful. And." said Bob. Curiously enough. He happened to meet Mike going to school next morning. and the realisation of his escape made him agree readily to all the conditions imposed. really. Firby-Smith. and the offensively forgiving. After all. who had frequently come into contact with Bob in the house." said Mike. I did run him out. . It isn't as if he did that sort of thing as a habit. "I say. "I'm specially glad for one reason." and Bob waving them back." "Of course it was. it was frightful cheek. without interest." "What's that?" inquired Mike. Mike.

Be all right. with the comfortable feeling that he had managed to combine duty and pleasure after all. He'd have been playing but for you. Beastly bad luck. "I've crocked my wrist a bit. He tapped with his right hand. in a day or two." "Good-night. "Is it bad?" "Nothing much. anyway." "Hope so. telling him to be ready to start with the team for Geddington by the 8. came to the conclusion that it must be something in the Jackson blood. retiring hurriedly. He would have felt that it was no business of his to fight his brother's battles for him. for his left was in a sling. "Hullo!" "I'm awfully sorry. too. "Come in!" yelled the captain. They were _all_ beasts. just before lock-up. rather." said Mike stolidly. It seemed to him that it was necessary to repay Bob. and his decision remained unaltered. yes. and gradually made up his mind. He kicked Burton." "How did you do that? You were all right at the nets?" "Slipped as I was changing. He thought the thing over more fully during school. On the evening before the Geddington match. weighing this remark. that's bad luck. Not once or twice. Burgess. though." "I say. I suppose?" "Oh." And Burgess." At any other time Mike would have heard Bob called a beast without active protest. I'm afraid I shan't be able to play to-morrow. wrote a note to Bob at Donaldson's. Mike tapped at Burgess's study door. We wanted your batting." said Mike. But on this occasion he deviated from his rule."Because your beast of a brother has been chucked out. Good-night. some taint. It must be remembered that he was in a confused mental condition. * * * * * Mike walked on. but several times. and that the only thing he realised clearly was that Bob had pulled him out of an uncommonly nasty hole.54 next morning. so that Burton. as it were." "Thanks. CHAPTER XVI .

Somebody ought to look at it. There's a second match on. He had been dashing up to Scotland on the day when Mike first became a Wrykynian. had inherited enough money to keep him in comfort for the rest of his life. His telegram arrived during morning school. Uncle John took command of the situation at once. he had looked in on Mike's people for a brief space. What have you been doing to yourself?" "Crocked my wrist a bit. He had thereupon left the service. took the early express to Wrykyn in order to pay a visit of inspection. Go on the river?" "I shouldn't be able to steer. "School playing anybody to-day. what shall we do. It won't do any harm having somebody examine it who knows a bit about these things. It's like going over the stables when you're stopping at a country-house." "They're playing Geddington." "H'm. Only it's away." "Doctor seen it?" "No. "It isn't anything. and." "I could manage about that. Still. I think I should like to see the place first.AN EXPERT EXAMINATION Mike's Uncle John was a wanderer on the face of the earth. I didn't see. Coming south." "How did you do that?" "Slipped while I was changing after cricket. but a few weeks in an uncomfortable hotel in Skye and a few days in a comfortable one in Edinburgh had left him with the impression that he had now seen all that there was to be seen in North Britain and might reasonably shift his camp again. He had been an army surgeon in the days of his youth. mainly in Afghanistan. ." Mike did not appear to relish this prospect." "Hurt?" "Not much. thanks. Be all right by Monday. It doesn't matter a bit. at the request of Mike's mother. and now spent most of his time flitting from one spot of Europe to another. Mike? I want to see a match. Mike went down to the station to meet him after lunch. Your mother's sure to ask me if you showed me round. and. after an adventurous career. Now. Uncle John. It's nothing much. But it's really nothing." "Why aren't you--Hullo. I'll have a look later on. really." "Never mind.

Of course. and Henfrey got one of those a week ago. I see. No wonder you're feeling badly treated. What bad luck. they'll probably keep him in. "Chap in Donaldson's. The sun had never seemed to Mike so bright or the grass so green. it was this Saturday." "For the first? For the school! My word. who had gone in first wicket for the second eleven. but he choked the feeling down. Both Mike and his uncle were inclined to scamp the business. Then there'll be only the last place left. "That's Trevor. where the second eleven were playing a neighbouring engineering school. by George!" remarked Uncle John. and they passed on to the cricket field." "Rather awkward. There are only three vacancies." "Has Bob got your place?" Mike nodded. By Jove. I remember your father saying you had played once for the school." It is never very interesting playing the part of showman at school. Still--And the Geddington ground was supposed to be one of the easiest scoring grounds of all the public schools! "Well hit." "Isn't there room for both of you?" "Such a lot of old colours. swept a half-volley to leg round to the bank where they were sitting." two or three times in an absent voice. I was playing for the first. Mike.Got to be done. if he does well against Geddington." said Mike. They look as if they were getting set. I expect they'll give one of the other two to a bowler. The thing was done. "I suppose you would have been playing here but for your wrist?" "No. If ever there was a day when it seemed to Mike that a century would have been a certainty. It was one of those days when the ball looks like a large vermilion-coloured football as it leaves the bowler's hand. bitter realisation of all he had given up swept over him. The fellow at the other end is Wilkins. I should think. But I wish I . "pretty good fun batting on a day like this." Uncle John detected the envious note. Will you get another chance?" "Depends on Bob." he said enviously. A sudden. that." "Still. I didn't know that. and it was no good brooding over the might-have-beens now. as Trevor. Very nice. I didn't know you were a regular member of the team. Mike pointed out the various landmarks without much enthusiasm--it is only after one has left a few years that the school buildings take to themselves romance--and Uncle John said. and done well. "If he does well to-day. "Ah yes. and better do it as soon as possible. but I thought that was only as a substitute. it's Bob's last year. I've got plenty of time. It was a glorious day. Neville-Smith. He's in the School House.

"I hope you don't smoke." stammered Mike." Uncle John looked over his shoulder." Apparently Bob had not had a chance yet of distinguishing himself. "It's really nothing. The next piece of shade that you see. A-ah!" He blew a great cloud of smoke into the air. The telegram read. as he pulled up-stream with strong. "The worst of a school. "There ought to be a telegram from Geddington by this time." They walked down the road towards the school landing-stage. caught a crab. To Mike it seemed as if everything in the world was standing still and waiting. Lunch." "Rotten trick for a boy. When you get to my age you need it. then gave it a little twist. . Mike was crimson. "is that one isn't allowed to smoke on the grounds. Uncle John looked up sharply." After they had watched the match for an hour. "Suppose we go for a pull on the river now?" he suggested." said Uncle John. sing out. His uncle pressed the wrist gingerly once or twice.could get in this year. Which reminds me." said Mike. and we'll put in there." said Mike. Boys ought to be thinking about keeping themselves fit and being good at games. but his uncle had already removed the sling. They got up. Can you manage with one hand? Here. "That willow's what you want." said Mike. recovered himself. "Geddington 151 for four." he began. "Ye--no. He could hear nothing but his own breathing. "But I believe they're weak in bowling. Uncle John's restless nature asserted itself. I wonder how Bob's got on. Mike?" "No." A hunted expression came into Mike's eyes. "That hurt?" he asked. let me--Done it? Good." "Not bad that. "Put the rope over that stump. "Let's just call at the shop. I badly want a pipe. and sighed contentedly. Let's have a look at the wrist. unskilful stroke." "Pull your left. and steered the boat in under the shade of the branches. and was examining the arm with the neat rapidity of one who has been brought up to such things.

dash it all then."What's the game?" inquired Uncle John. would they give him his cap? Supposing." Conversation dwindled to vanishing-point." The idea had occurred to him just before he spoke." "I ought to be getting back soon. It had struck him as neat and plausible. What's the time? Just on six? Didn't know it was so late. I was nearly asleep. He'd be most frightfully sick if he knew. It wasn't that. let his mind wander to Geddington. Why this wounded warrior business when you've no more the matter with you than I have?" Mike hesitated. one may as well tell the truth. "Do you always write with your left hand? And if you had gone with the first eleven to Geddington. "I only wanted to get out of having to write this morning. Inwardly he was deciding that the five shillings which he had intended to bestow on Mike on his departure should become a sovereign." "I won't tell him. and he seemed a bit sick at not playing for the first." . it may be mentioned as an interesting biographical fact. There was an exam. Mike said nothing. so I thought I might as well let him. I think.. Uncle John smoked on in weighty silence. Old Bob got me out of an awful row the day before yesterday. (This. How had the school got on? What had Bob done? If he made about twenty. well.." When in doubt. wouldn't that have got you out of your exam? Try again. There was a twinkle in his uncle's eyes. Only----" "Well?" "Oh. staring up at the blue sky through the branches of the willow. "Jove. "May as well tell me. To Uncle John it did not appear in the same light. swear you won't tell him. while Mike. really. Lock-up's at half-past. "I know. and his uncle sat up.. Mike told it. was the only occasion in his life on which Mike earned money at the rate of fifteen shillings a half-minute. gaping. on. That's how it was.) "Swear you won't tell him. where his fate was even now being sealed. Look here." Uncle John was silent. Then there was a clatter as a briar pipe dropped on to the floor of the boat. I won't give you away. A faint snore from Uncle John broke in on his meditations.

Mike pushed his way through the crowd. Old Smith was awfully bucked because he'd taken four wickets. "Any colours?" asked Mike after a pause. Neville-Smith four). CHAPTER XVII ANOTHER VACANCY Wyatt got back late that night. "By Jove. "Bob made forty-eight. "Shall we go and look?" They walked to the shop. It ran as follows: "Geddington 247 (Burgess six wickets." He paused for a moment." Wyatt began to undress. thanks. then. . He was singing comic songs when he wasn't trying to put Ellerby under the seat. I should think he'd go off his nut if he took eight ever." he said. Don't fall overboard."Up with the anchor." Mike worked his way back through the throng. Wrykyn 270 for nine (Berridge 86." said Mike." "There'll be another telegram. And I came back in a carriage with Neville-Smith and Ellerby. I should think. Uncle John felt in his pocket. How's your wrist?" "Oh. and silently slid a sovereign into Mike's hand. You can tackle that rope with two hands now. as they reached the school gates. and they ragged the whole time. and rejoined his uncle. Marsh 58. It was the only possible reply. eh? We are not observed. arriving at the dormitory as Mike was going to bed. better." he added carelessly. I wanted to go to sleep. It was a longer message this time. "Well?" said Uncle John. I'm going to shove her off. A second piece of grey paper had been pinned up under the first. only they wouldn't let me. I'm done. Jackson 48). First eleven colours were generally given in the pavilion after a match or on the journey home. "We won. "It was simply baking at Geddington.

" Burgess. he felt. but two missed catches in one over was straining the bonds of human affection too far." "Why. can't remember who. though. There would have been serious trouble between David and Jonathan if either had persisted in dropping catches off the other's bowling. Their umpire. Bob puts them both on the floor. And Billy would cut his rich uncle from Australia if he kept on dropping them off him. Bit rotten for the Geddington chaps. I was in at the other end. He thought of Bob's iniquities with sorrow rather than wrath. Beastly man to bowl to. Next morning he found himself in a softened frame of mind. The scene was indelibly printed on his mind."No. He turns a delicate green when he sees a catch coming. And the man always will choose Billy's bowling to drop catches off. and the slow head-ball which had led to a big hitter being caught on the boundary. did he field badly?" "Rottenly. only Burgess is so keen on fielding that he rather keeps off it. Jenkins and Clephane. Chap had got a late cut which he fancied rather. Soothed by these memories. A bit lucky. Sent down a couple which he put to the boundary. Chap had a go at it. With great guile he had fed this late cut. to-day. Bob's fielding's perfectly sinful. He felt towards him much as a father feels towards a prodigal son whom there is still a . He ought to have been out before he'd scored. Bob's the sort of man who wouldn't catch a ball if you handed it to him on a plate. And Bob dropped it! The memory was too bitter. he fell asleep. He let their best man off twice in one over. He was very fond of Bob. when he does give a couple of easy chances. as he lay awake in his cubicle. Knocked me off in half a dozen overs. Never saw a clearer case in my life. had come to much the same conclusion. Only one or two thirds. just as he had expected: and he felt that life was a good thing after all when the ball just touched the corner of the bat and flew into Bob's hands. He didn't give the ghost of a chance after that. I hear he's got an average of eighty in school matches this season. he would get insomnia. but now he's got so nervous that he's a dozen times worse. Just lost them the match. Billy wouldn't have given him his cap after the match if he'd made a hundred." "Most captains would have done. only the umpire didn't seem to know that it's l-b-w when you get your leg right in front of the wicket and the ball hits it. No first. too. He was pretty bad at the beginning of the season. If he dwelt on it." "What was Bob's innings like?" "Not bad. and another chap. off Billy. with watercress round it." "I should have thought they'd have given him his colours. He writhed in bed as he remembered the second of the two chances which the wretched Bob had refused. And. Ripping innings bar those two chances. and he was out when he'd made about sixteen. Bit of luck for Bob. Then fired a third much faster and a bit shorter. and the chap went on and made a hundred odd. So he turned to pleasanter reflections: the yorker which had shattered the second-wicket man. reviewing the match that night.

and hoped for the day. found his self-confidence returning slowly. Among these was one Leather-Twigg. Bob figured on the boundary." "All right then. for most of the shops to which any one ever thought of going were in the High Street." "I know. * * * * * His opportunity came at last. better known in criminal circles as Shoeblossom. I'm frightfully sorry. This did not affect the bulk of the school. It's simply awful. of Seymour's. accordingly. Both of them were. I know that if a catch does come. I shall miss it." "Well. drop by drop. I can't time them. Directness was always one of Burgess's leading qualities. I wish you'd give me a shot in the deep--for the second. and stop an occasional drive along the carpet. Do you think you'd really do better in the deep?" "I'm almost certain I should. Try it. "It's those beastly slip catches. But there were certain inquiring minds who liked to ferret about in odd corners. he played for the second. There is just that moment or two for collecting one's thoughts which makes the whole difference. As for Mike. I get in the dickens of a funk directly the bowler starts his run now." The conversation turned to less pressing topics. It will be remembered that on the morning after the Great Picnic the headmaster made an announcement in Hall to the effect that." "Do you know. Bob. Bob. all streets except the High Street would be out of bounds. I could get time to watch them there. Trevor'll hit me up catches. where he had not much to do except throw the ball back to the bowler. * * * * * In the next two matches. The beauty of fielding in the deep is that no unpleasant surprises can be sprung upon one. I believe I should do better in the deep. I'm certain the deep would be much better. Shoeblossom was a curious mixture of the Energetic Ragger and the . but I mean.chance of reforming." "That one yesterday was right into your hands. why _can't_ you hold them? It's no good being a good bat--you're that all right--if you're going to give away runs in the field. as he stood regarding the game from afar." Bob was all remorse. owing to an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town. I'll practise like mad. I hate the slips. About your fielding. "Look here." "Second be blowed! I want your batting in the first. He overtook Bob on his way to chapel.

at the same moment. Shoeblossom. On a Monday evening you would hear a hideous uproar proceeding from Seymour's junior day-room. On the Tuesday afternoon. and in the dingy back shop. Marsh. disappeared from Society. the book was obviously the last word in hot stuff. the school doctor. and a ball hit from a neighbouring net nearly scalped him. G. Shoeblossom came away. and found himself oppressed by a queer distaste for food. He tried out of doors. and also.Quiet Student. squealing louder than any two others. his collar burst and blackened and his face apoplectically crimson. his late cuts that were wont to set the pavilion in a roar? Wrapped in a blanket. settled down to a thoughtful perusal of chapter six. and returned to the school. Essentially a man of moods. too. entering the High Street furtively. going down with a swagger-stick to investigate. He had occasional headaches. The professional advice of Dr. where tea might be had at a reasonable sum. peace. And so it came about that Mike soared once again into the ranks of the . where he went about his lawful occasions as if there were no such thing as chicken-pox in the world. and thought of Life. sucked oranges. It happened about the date of the Geddington match that he took out from the school library a copy of "The Iron Pirate." and for the next day or two he wandered about like a lost spirit trying to find a sequestered spot in which to read it. for chicken-pox. In brief. the doctor was recommending that Master John George. deep in some work of fiction and resentful of interruption. and it became incumbent upon Burgess to select a substitute for him. Oakes. and looking like the spotted marvel of a travelling circus. lest Authority should see him out of bounds. strolling in some shady corner of the grounds you would come upon him lying on his chest. and Shoeblossom took up his abode in the Infirmary. one night under the eye of a short-sighted master). But all the while the microbe was getting in some unostentatious but clever work. and at the bottom of the heap. He tried the junior day-room. Upstairs. he was attending J. of the first eleven. A week later Shoeblossom began to feel queer. On the Wednesday morning he would be in receipt of four hundred lines from his housemaster for breaking three windows and a gas-globe. the son of the house. where he read _Punch_. His inability to hit on such a spot was rendered more irritating by the fact that. be kept warm and out of draughts and not permitted to scratch himself. all amongst the dust and bluebottles. The next victim was Marsh. he was driven across to the Infirmary in a four-wheeler. Two days later Barry felt queer. but people threw cushions at him. you would find a tangled heap of squealing humanity on the floor. to judge from the first few chapters (which he had managed to get through during prep. and. Where were his drives now. He made his way there. was called for. what was more important. would be Shoeblossom. Chicken-pox is no respecter of persons. Then he recollected that in a quiet backwater off the High Street there was a little confectioner's shop. who was top of the school averages. He. however necessary such an action might seem to him. Anything in the nature of concentration became impossible in these circumstances.

and that by a mere twenty odd runs in a hard-fought game. I've got the taste in my mouth still. for Neville-Smith. Have to look after my digestion. by showing up well with the ball against the Incogniti when the others failed with the bat. they failed miserably. Got through a slice. It generally happens at least once in a school cricket season that the team collapses hopelessly. Morris and Berridge left with the score still short of ten. batting first on the drying wicket. three years ago. and I'm alone. for no apparent reason. doubled this. "there will be the biggest bust of modern times at my place. I remember. and the school. and was not out eleven. after lights-out in the houses?" "Used to when I was a kid. made it practically certain that he would get one of the two vacancies. And I can square them. and Mike kept his end up. for rain fell early in the morning. "Well. The total was a hundred and seven. Will you come?" "Tea?" "Tea!" said Neville-Smith scornfully. too. and after that the rout began." . But on this particular day. against a not overwhelmingly strong side. Sardines on sugar-biscuits. found themselves considerably puzzled by a slow left-hander. Bob. and ate that. who hit out at everything and knocked up thirty before he was stumped. The weather may have had something to do with it. we got up and fed at about two in the morning. Do you remember Macpherson? Left a couple of years ago. what then?" "Don't you ever have feeds in the dorms. when Wain's won the footer cup.elect. did anything to distinguish himself. They had only been beaten once. so he spread brown-boot polish on bread. My pater is away for a holiday in Norway. Too old now. and found his name down in the team to play against the Incogniti. but Wrykyn so far had been particularly fortunate this year. "If I do" he said to Wyatt. bar the servants. Wonderful chap! But what about this thing of yours? What time's it going to be?" "Eleven suit you?" "All right. All sorts of luxuries. and the Incogniti. going in fourth wicket. His food ran out. Some schools do it in nearly every match. The general opinion of the school after this match was that either Mike or Bob would have to stand down from the team when it was definitely filled up. made a dozen. batting when the wicket was easier. CHAPTER XVIII BOB HAS NEWS TO IMPART Wrykyn went down badly before the Incogs. but nobody except Wyatt.

Pity to spoil the record. Why? What about?" . He got tea ready. Not that it matters much really whether I do now. Still. was more at his ease." "I'm an exceptional sort of chap. as if there were no particular reason why either of them should feel uncomfortable in the other's presence. and he privately thought it rather tactless of the latter when. being older. what?" Mike murmured unintelligibly through a mouthful of bread-and-jam." "You get on much better in the deep. It required more tact than he had at his disposal to carry off a situation like this. he would just do it." "What about the Jacksons?" "It's going to be a close thing. If Bob's fielding were to improve suddenly. Bob."How about getting out?" "I'll do it as quickly as the team did to-day. We've all been at Wrykyn." "Bit better. Beastly awkward. In a year or two that kid'll be a marvel. he poured Mike out a cup." "You were all right. one wants the best man. "It's no good pretending it isn't an awkward situation. Has Burgess said anything to you yet?" "No. He's bound to get in next year. passed him the bread. When he had finished." * * * * * Mike avoided Bob as much as possible during this anxious period. of course. "because it is. I don't know." "Oh. and sat down. he insisted on his coming in and having some tea. "What! Why?" "That's what I wanted to see you about. so perhaps it would be better if Bob got the place as it's his last season. meeting him one day outside Donaldson's." continued Bob. of course. It's your fault for being such a young Infant Prodigy. "Not seen much of each other lately." Mike stared. yes. Liable at any moment to miss a sitter." "Awful rot the pater sending us to the same school. though. making desultory conversation the while. But young Mike's all over him as a bat. Mike shuffled uncomfortably as his brother filled the kettle and lit the Etna. and mine for not being able to field like an ordinary human being. I can't say more than that. Mike.

It's the fortune of war. of course. He's a shade better than R. now.' said old Bill.'s like a sounding-board. They thought the place was empty. I'll tell you what makes me think the thing's settled. I'm simply saying what I think. "I don't propose to kiss you or anything. He was sorry for Bob.. but he would not have been human (which he certainly was) if the triumph of having won through at last into the first eleven had not dwarfed commiseration. of course. wiping the sweat off his forehead. Burgess.' 'Yes. I'll give you my opinion. and then sheered off myself. and I picked it up and started reading it. I don't want you to go about feeling that you've blighted my life. . I'm jolly glad it's you. there'll be no comparison. it's about as difficult a problem as any captain of cricket at Wrykyn has ever had to tackle. but don't feel bound to act on it. don't let's go to the other extreme. "Well. on the other hand. '_I_ think M. sir?' Spence said. and that's what he's there for. sir. Spence said.' he said.'" "Oh. and I shall cadge a seat in the pavilion from you when you're playing for England at the Oval." "I've not heard a word----" "I have. 'Well. So Mike edged out of the room. 'It's rough on Bob. and said nothing.' I had a sort of idea that old Billy liked to boss things all on his own. Congratulate you. but apparently he does consult Spence sometimes. The pav. just now. 'That's just what I think. I couldn't help hearing what they said. As it isn't me. Bob."Well. and so on." Mike looked at the floor. "Thanks. There was nothing much to _be_ said. Billy said." said Mike. 'Decidedly M. awfully. Billy agreed with him. he's cricket-master. It had been his one ambition. 'Well. I've a sort of idea our little race is over. in the First room. to shake his hand. and tore across to Wain's. but. when you congratulated a man on getting colours. "Not at all. And so home." muttered Mike." resumed Bob. There was a copy of the _Wrykynian_ lying on the mantelpiece. I was in the pav." It was the custom at Wrykyn. and in a year or two. doing a big Young Disciple with Wise Master act. 'I don't know what to do. what I wanted to see you about was this. This was one of the most harrowing interviews he had ever been through.' said Spence. I heard every word. What do you think. rot. Well. And after that there seemed to be nothing much to talk about. trying to find a batting-glove I'd mislaid. I'm not saying that it isn't a bit of a brick just missing my cap like this. I waited a bit to give them a good start. And then I heard Burgess and Spence jawing on the steps. and now he had achieved it. but it would have been just as bad for you if you'd been the one dropped. They shook hands. and dashing up side-streets to avoid me because you think the sight of you will be painful. After all. So there wasn't any noise to show anybody outside that there was some one in the room. I fancy you've won. sir. but still----' And then they walked down the steps.

and this silent alarm proved effective. a few words scrawled in pencil at the bottom caught his eye. He had banged his head on the pillow six times over-night. It wouldn't do. dash it. and a little more. The only possible confidant was Wyatt. He belonged to the school of thought which holds that a man becomes plain and pasty if deprived of his full spell in bed. In this fermenting state Mike went into the house. shooting with the School Eight for the Ashburton. . And by the time he returned the notice would probably be up in the Senior Block with the other cricket notices. as he would otherwise almost certainly have been. was not. as it always does. To be routed out of bed a clear hour before the proper time. orders were orders. For bull's-eyes as well as cats came within Wyatt's range as a marksman. Cricket took up too much of his time for him to be captain of the Eight and the man chosen to shoot for the Spencer. therefore. He woke from a sort of doze to find that it was twenty-five past. He took his quarter of an hour.The annoying part of the thing was that he had nobody to talk to about it. but even though short of practice he was well up in the team. F. Mike could tell nobody. It would have to be done. When he woke it seemed even less attractive than it had done when he went to sleep. Until the news was official he could not mention it to the common herd. This was to the good. As he passed it. a prospect that appealed to him. Seymour's on the following Monday was on the board. It would only take him ten minutes to wash and get into his flannels.-S.--W. Reaching out a hand for his watch.30 to-morrow morning. Until he returned. "All the above will turn out for house-fielding at 6." said Mike. He aimed at the peach-bloom complexion. Still. "what rot! Why on earth can't he leave us alone!" For getting up an hour before his customary time for rising was not among Mike's favourite pastimes. CHAPTER XIX MIKE GOES TO SLEEP AGAIN Mike was a stout supporter of the view that sleep in large quantities is good for one. he felt. He could manage another quarter of an hour between the sheets. The list of the team to play for Wain's _v_." "Oh. And Wyatt was at Bisley. he found that it was five minutes past six. even on a summer morning.

and went in in response to the hoarse roar from the other side of it. the more outrageous did it seem that he should be dragged out of bed to please Firby-Smith's vapid mind. looking at him. and waited. being ordered about. Was this right. Firby-Smith straightened his tie. for when he said six-thirty he meant six-thirty--but of actual desertion. One knows that delay means inconvenience. And during that minute there floated into his mind the question. the massive mind of the Gazeka was filled with rage. "Young Jackson. The painful interview took place after breakfast. was doing a deed which would make the achievement of Daniel seem in comparison like the tentative effort of some timid novice. he said to himself. Make the rest of the team fag about. Mike thought he would take another minute. Now he began to waver. inconvenienced--in short. about to receive his first eleven colours on this very day probably. and the strong right hand of Justice allowed to put in some energetic work. And one also knows that a single resolute heave will do the trick. Who _was_ he. as it was gradually borne in upon him that this was not a question of mere lateness--which. he felt. and glared. One may reason with oneself clearly and forcibly without the slightest effect.Man's inability to get out of bed in the morning is a curious thing. The head of the house despatched his fag in search of Mike. What was the matter with his fielding? _It_ was all right. yes. Who _was_ Firby-Smith? That was the point. One simply lies there. Was this proper? And the hands of the watch moved round to twenty to. had got his first _for_ fielding! It was with almost a feeling of self-righteousness that Mike turned over on his side and went to sleep again. after all? This started quite a new train of thought. You weren't at house-fielding this morning. I want to know what it all means. But not a chap who. dash it all. by the way. adjusting his pince-nez (a thing. The more he considered the Gazeka's insignificance and futility and his own magnificence. in coming to his den." he said. His comments on the team's fielding that morning were bitter and sarcastic. He paced up and down the room like a hungry lion. Previously Mike had firmly intended to get up--some time. It was time. and jolly quick. he asked himself. which lions seldom do) and behaving in other respects like a monarch of the desert. Perhaps it may spoil one's whole day. And certainly Mike was not without qualms as he knocked at the door. One would have felt. put upon by a worm who had only just scraped into the third. Here was he. Didn't you see the notice?" . "look here. that the foot of Authority was set firmly down. would be bad enough. But logic is of no use. And outside in the cricket-field. that Mike. His eyes gleamed behind their pince-nez.

just listen to me. He mentioned this. you think you can do what you like. Could he give this excuse? He had not his Book of Etiquette by him at the moment. It was not according to his complicated. so you've jolly well got to turn out for fielding with the others when I think it necessary. You go siding about as if you'd bought it. There was no arguing against the fact that the head of the house _was_ a toothy weed. "What time did you wake up?" "Six. and Firby-Smith a toothy weed." said Mike indignantly. young man. as you please. See?" Mike said nothing. I've had my eye on you for some time. but he rather fancied not. That's what you've got.Mike admitted that he had seen the notice. yet intelligible code of morality to tell lies to save himself. "Six!" "Five past. Happy thought: over-slept himself. you went to sleep again. "Over-slept yourself! You must jolly well not over-sleep yourself. "Yes. When others were concerned he could suppress the true and suggest the false with a face of brass. Awfully embarrassing." "I don't. Frightful swelled head." said the Gazeka shrilly. What do you mean by over-sleeping yourself?" Very trying this sort of thing." said Mike. The rather large grain of truth in what . Just because you've got your second. this. and I'm captain of it. "Do--you--see." "Oh. but he felt a firm conviction that it would not be politic to say so. You think the place belongs to you. That's got nothing to do with it. you frightful kid?" [Illustration: "DO--YOU--SEE. "You think the whole frightful place belongs to you. His real reason for not turning up to house-fielding was that he considered himself above such things. The point is that you're one of the house team. YOU FRIGHTFUL KID?"] Mike remained stonily silent. did you? Well. You've got swelled head. and I've seen it coming on. what do you mean by it? What?" Mike hesitated. "Then you frightful kid. turn up or not. It doesn't matter whether I'm only in the third and you're in the first." "Why didn't you get up then?" "I went to sleep again. you do.

as the unpleasant truth about ourselves is apt to do. with a dash of raspberry-vinegar. Well. brandishing a jug of water and a glass. "What's your trouble?" he asked. who had maintained a moody silence throughout this speech. If it's a broken heart." he said." "Again! I never saw such chaps as you two." . Always at it. Wyatt was worn out. I could do with a stoup of Malvoisie. and stared at a photograph on the wall. young Jackson? Rather like ginger-beer. The school had finished sixth for the Ashburton. "Oh. and his feelings were hurt. "That's the cats. for a beaker full of the warm south. and surveyed Mike. and Mike began to brood over his wrongs once more.Firby-Smith had said had gone home. and he himself had scored thirty at the two hundred and twenty-seven at the five hundred totals. Firby-Smith's manner became ominously calm. I wonder if the moke's gone to bed yet. the blushful Hippocrene! Have you ever tasted Hippocrene. Very heady. but cheerful. Mike's jaw set more tightly. He was determined not to give in and say that he saw even if the head of the house invoked all the majesty of the prefects' room to help him. full of the true. "For pains in the back try Ju-jar. Who's been quarrelling with you?" "It's only that ass Firby-Smith. A-ah!" He put down the glass. is he well? Has the lost will been discovered. I didn't hit the bull every time. well! And what of the old homestead? Anything happened since I went away? Me old father. The man who can wing a cat by moonlight can put a bullet where he likes on a target. A jug of water drawn from the well in the old courtyard where my ancestors have played as children for centuries back would just about save my life. Zam-buk's what you want. "Do you see?" he asked again. and I suppose it always will be." He left the dormitory. He produced a swagger-stick from a corner. I'll go down and look. My fatal modesty has always been a hindrance to me in life. What one really wants here is a row of stars. which was an improvement of eight places on their last year's form. which had put him in a very good humour with the world. Failing that. * * * * * Mike was still full of his injuries when Wyatt came back. "Me ancient skill has not deserted me. Wyatt came back. as he had nearly done once before. He set his teeth. or is there a mortgage on the family estates? By Jove. water will do. but that was to give the other fellows a chance. What was the trouble this time? Call him a grinning ape again? Your passion for the truth'll be getting you into trouble one of these days.

look here. It's too early in the morning. but. and say. but his eyes stared fixedly from above it."He said I stuck on side. you may have noticed it--but I must put in a well-chosen word at this juncture. silent natures. Otherwise. and a voice 'Hear! Hear!'" Mike rolled over in bed and glared up at the orator. and.' Or did he lead up to it in any way? Did he say." "I mean." said Mike morosely. you've got to obey him. and one of them is bunking a thing when you're put down for it. my gentle che-ild." "But you can't stick on side at house-fielding. There are some things you simply can't do. having observed its occupant thoughtfully for a moment. Sit up and listen to what your kind old uncle's got to say to you about manners and deportment. and took a sip of water from the carafe which stood at his elbow. You stick on side." "No. Most of his face was covered by the water-jug. you'll have a rotten time here." "I like you jawing about discipline. "Nothing like this old '87 water. drew a deep breath. and. "Such body." "What! Why?" "Oh. did he buttonhole you on your way to school. really. a word in your ear." Wyatt leaned on the end of Mike's bed. "And why.' What had you been doing to him?" "It was the house-fielding. 'Jackson. I defy any one to. It doesn't matter who it is puts you down." "I didn't turn up. I don't know. Why should there be one law for the burglar and one for me? But you were . Don't pretend to be dropping off to sleep." he said. "I say. you stick it on. If he's captain. that 'ere is." "Why?" "I don't know. should I not talk about discipline?" "Considering you break out of the house nearly every night. rather rum when you think that a burglar would get it hot for breaking in. 'Talking of side. blood as you are at cricket. I don't want to jaw--I'm one of those quiet chaps with strong. He winked in a friendly way. Cheers from the audience. That's discipline. putting down the jug. while I get dropped on if I break out. proceeded to speak wisdom for the good of his soul. The speaker then paused. Did you simply bunk it?" "Yes." "In passing.

That moment marked a distinct epoch in his career. Secretaries of cricket at Ripton and Wrykyn always liked to arrange the date of the match towards the end of the term. if possible. Mike went to sleep with a clear idea of what the public school spirit. of which so much is talked and written. About my breaking out. you can never hope to become the Perfect Wrykynian like. young Jackson. Besides which the members of the teams had had time to get into form. That was the match with Ripton. and Winchester are one group: Westminster and Charterhouse another: Bedford. Both at cricket and football Ripton was the school that mattered most. Eton. Harrow. Spence which Bob Jackson had overheard. This nearly always lay between Ripton and Wrykyn. having beaten Ripton. reckless though he was as regarded written school rules." Mike made no reply. If Wyatt. most forms of law and order. and St. Sometimes an exceptional Geddington team would sweep the board. Until you learn that. the other you mustn't ever break. He would have perished rather than admit it. One you can break if you feel like taking the risks. By July the weeding-out process had generally finished. before the Ripton match. Paul's are a third. you'll see that there are two sorts of discipline at school. . these last must be things which could not be treated lightly. Wrykyn did not always win its other school matches." he concluded modestly. Usually Wilborough and Geddington were left to scramble for the wooden spoon. But this did not happen often. Geddington. but it generally did. but each played each.saying--just so. as far as games are concerned. accompanied the cricket-master across the field to the boarding-houses. At Wrykyn it was the custom to fill up the team. would go down before Wilborough. There was no actual championship competition. which was the more impressive to him from his knowledge of his friend's contempt for. Haileybury. Dulwich. That night. or. or Wrykyn. There was only one more match to be played before the school fixture-list was finished. A player is likely to show better form if he has got his colours than if his fate depends on what he does in that particular match. he had distinctly made up his mind to give Mike his first eleven colours next day. Ripton. and by the end of the season it was easy to see which was entitled to first place. cheerful disregard of. Wrykyn. Tonbridge. yet at the same time he could not help acknowledging to himself that the latter had had the right on his side. The public schools of England divide themselves naturally into little groups. rather. CHAPTER XX THE TEAM IS FILLED UP When Burgess. "me. held so rigid a respect for those that were unwritten. for the first time in his life. His feelings were curiously mixed. and Wilborough formed a group. so that they might take the field with representative and not experimental teams. but Wyatt's words had sunk in. but it isn't done. really meant. at the end of the conversation in the pavilion with Mr. He was still furious with Firby-Smith. When you're a white-haired old man like me. He saw and approved of Wyatt's point of view. I don't know why. In this way. I thank you.

If he could have pleased himself. Marsh's fielding alone was worth the money. Neville-Smith was not a great bowler. engrossed in his book. The more he thought of it. Burgess was glad the thing was settled. but he was steady. and kep' in a sepyrit jug. If Burgess had not picked up a particularly interesting novel after breakfast on the morning of Mike's interview with Firby-Smith in the study. and he had done well in the earlier matches. and Burgess waited to see if he would bring it off." "Banzai!" said Burgess. as the poet has it. One gave him no trouble. He could write it after tea. had resolved to fill up the first eleven just a week before Ripton visited Wrykyn. the sorrier he was for him. Burgess felt safe when he bowled. . he went across to the Infirmary to Inquire about Marsh. Marsh had better not see any one just yet. Finally he had consulted Mr. as it was not his habit to put up notices except during the morning. The paper on which he had intended to write the list and the pen he had laid out to write it with lay untouched on the table. To take the field against Ripton without Marsh would have been to court disaster. There were two vacancies. The report was more than favourable. He crooned extracts from musical comedy as he walked towards the nets. In case of accident. he would have kept Bob In. accordingly. From small causes great events do spring. there was a week before the match. With him at short slip. "Pleasure is pleasure. he postponed the thing. feeling that life was good. Recollection of Bob's hard case was brought to him by the sight of that about-to-be-soured sportsman tearing across the ground in the middle distance in an effort to get to a high catch which Trevor had hit up to him. But the choice between Bob and Mike had kept him awake into the small hours two nights in succession.Burgess. And. the list would have gone up on the notice-board after prayers. he let the moments go by till the sound on the bell startled him into movement. His impetus carried him on almost to where Burgess was standing. The temptation to allow sentiment to interfere with business might have become too strong if he had waited much longer. and Mr. As it was. And then there was only time to gather up his cap. Bob got to it with one hand. and sprint. The uncomfortable burden of the knowledge that he was about temporarily to sour Bob Jackson's life ceased for the moment to trouble him. Spence had voted for Mike. "Doctor Oakes thinks he will be back in school on Tuesday. and he hated to have to do it. He had fairly earned his place. It was a difficult catch. Spence." said Burgess. * * * * * When school was over." The first duty of a captain is to have no friends. and held it. "Well held. and biz is biz. but he was certain to be out in time to play against Ripton. But. After all. He knew that it would be a wrench definitely excluding Bob from the team.

He felt as if he were playing some low trick on a pal. He was glad for the sake of the school." said Bob." he explained. hoping he had said it as if he meant it. dashing about in the sun to improve his fielding. much as a bishop might feel if he heard that a favourite curate had become a Mahometan or a Mumbo-Jumboist. and all the time the team was filled up." "I've just been to the Infirmary. towards the end of the evening. did not enter his mind." "Good. It was decidedly a blow. That it had not been a friendly conversation would have been evident to the most casual observer from the manner in which Mike stumped off. That Burgess would feel. in fact. his mind full of Bob once more. not an ounce of malice in the head of Wain's house. Then the Jekyll and Hyde business completed itself."Hullo. A gruesome thought had flashed across his mind that the captain might think that this gallery-work was an organised advertisement. There are many kinds of walk. Firby-Smith. came upon Firby-Smith and Mike parting at the conclusion of a conversation. "Young Jackson. It was the cricket captain who. How's Marsh?" "They wouldn't let me see him. "You're hot stuff in the deep. "What's up?" inquired Burgess. but it's all right. on being told of Mike's slackness. Burgess passed on. swinging his cricket-bag as if it were a weapon of offence." said the Gazeka. Mike's was the walk of the Overwrought Soul. To the fact that Mike and not himself was the eleventh cap he had become partially resigned: but he had wanted rather badly to play against Ripton. and so he proceeded to tell . but one has one's personal ambitions. and became the cricket captain again. I was only telling him that there was going to be house-fielding to-morrow before breakfast." "Easy when you're only practising. "I couldn't get both hands to it. He'll be able to play on Saturday." "The frightful kid cut it this morning. in the favourable and dashing character of the fellow-who-will-stand-no-nonsense. of course. as who should say." There was. What hard luck it was! There was he." said Bob awkwardly. All he considered was that the story of his dealings with Mike showed him. He suppressed his personal feelings. a sort of Captain Kettle on dry land. do you mean? Oh. "This way for Iron Wills. That by telling the captain of cricket that Mike had shirked fielding-practice he might injure the latter's prospects of a first eleven cap simply did not occur to him. nothing. There'll be worse trouble if he does it again." "Oh." "Didn't he like the idea?" "He's jolly well got to like it. it may be mentioned.

" "What's the matter now?" "Haven't you seen?" . Burgess parted with him with the firm conviction that Mike was a young slacker. For the initial before the name Jackson was R. Mike scarcely heard him. going out. "Congratulate you. He looked at the paper. "Congratulate you. The crowd that collected the moment Burgess had walked off carried him right up to the board. that looked less like an M. Bob." he said. It was only the pleasure of seeing his name down in black-and-white that made him trouble to look at the list. met Bob coming in. CHAPTER XXI MARJORY THE FRANK At the door of the senior block Burgess. As he stared. Keenness in fielding was a fetish with in detail. it is not surprising that the list Burgess made out that night before he went to bed differed in an important respect from the one he had intended to write before school. than the one on that list. and to cut practice struck him as a crime. and passed on. * * * * * When. therefore. There was no possibility of mistake. "Hard luck!" said somebody. Bob stared after him. Bob had beaten him on the tape. Trevor came out of the block. and adds to it the reaction caused by this sudden unmasking of Mike. He felt physically sick with the shock of the disappointment. there had never been an R. Bob's news of the day before yesterday had made it clear how that list would run. Bob. Mike happened to be near the notice-board when he pinned it up. as he was rather late. He felt that he had been deceived in Mike. one takes into consideration his private bias in favour of Bob. hurrying. Since writing was invented.

you'll have three years in the first." Bob endeavoured to find consolation. next year seems a very. Each was gratefully conscious of the fact that prayers would be beginning in another minute." said Mike. Bob's face was looking like a stuffed frog's. and up the stairs that led to the Great Hall. When one has missed one's colours. which was Bob's way of trying to appear unconcerned and at his ease. didn't I? I've only just had time to skim through this one. with equal awkwardness. Bob. They moved slowly through the cloisters. came down the steps. There was a short silence. This was no place for him. if you want to read it. Here it is." he said awkwardly. He caught sight of Bob and was passing with a feeble grin. very long way off. Bob snatched gladly at the subject." "Well. You're a cert. "Congratulate you. "Heard from home lately?" inquired Mike. No reason why he shouldn't. and Burgess agree with him." "No." "My--what? you're rotting. I'm not. "Thanks awfully. Just then." ." "Hope so. delicately. putting an end to an uncomfortable situation. You've got your first. Trevor moved on. feeling very ill. neither speaking. with such manifest lack of enthusiasm that Bob abandoned this line of argument. Spectators are not wanted at these awkward interviews. Had he dreamed that conversation between Spence and Burgess on the pavilion steps? Had he mixed up the names? He was certain that he had heard Spence give his verdict for Mike. and I only got it just as I was going to dash across to school. Go and look." The thing seemed incredible. as the post was late." said Bob."Seen what?" "Why the list. for next year." said Mike. It'll be something to do during Math. Mike. "Jolly glad you've got it. when something told him that this was one of those occasions on which one has to show a Red Indian fortitude and stifle one's private feelings. I swear I heard Burgess say to Spence----" "He changed his mind probably. "Anyhow." "Thanks. Not much in it. I showed you the last one. while Mike seemed as if at any moment he might burst into tears. "Got a letter from mother this morning. it's jolly rummy. "I believe there's a mistake.

and then a dull pain of which we are not always conscious unless our attention is directed to it. Most of those present congratulated him as he passed. and again Bob hardly seemed to appreciate it." and. pushed his way towards him through the crowd. but followed. there appeared on his face a worried. When the bell rang for the interval that morning. "Read that. He seemed to have something on his mind." The arrival of the headmaster put an end to the conversation." said Mike amiably. even an irritated look. "Got that letter?" "Yes." Mike resented the tone. for the first time in her life." he said. These things are like kicks on the shin. Evidently something had happened to upset Bob seriously. "What's up?" asked Mike. Mike heard the words "English Essay. in place of the blushful grin which custom demands from the man who is being congratulated on receipt of colours. A brief spell of agony. He looked round. and went up to the headmaster. "Hullo. and which in time disappears altogether. Mike was. seeing that the conversation was . as it were. too. "I want you to read----" "Jackson!" They both turned. The headmaster was standing on the edge of the gravel. Bob appeared curiously agitated. Sure it isn't meant for me? She owes me a letter. He was doing this in a literal as well as in a figurative sense when Bob entered the school shop. sitting up and taking nourishment. I'll show it you outside.' Bob led the way across the gravel and on to the first terrace. The disappointment was still there. Haven't had time to look at it yet. and Mike noticed. he stopped." "Why not here?" "Come on. it's for me all right."Marjory wrote." "After you. I'll give it you in the interval. Bob pushed the letter into Mike's hands." "No. * * * * * By a quarter to eleven Mike had begun to grow reconciled to his fate. As they went out on the gravel. but it was lessened. that. and. When they had left the crowd behind. seeing Mike. somebody congratulated Bob again. with some surprise.

--This has been a frightful fag to write. capped the headmaster and walked off. Marjory dropped hers into the body of the letter. But the humorous side of the thing did not appeal to him for long. and let it take its chance with the other news-items. "I'll tell you what you ought to do.S.S. Lionel is going to play for the school against Loamshire. and it's _the_ match of the season. Have you got your first? If you have. Reggie made a duck. it will be all through Mike. and had to write out 'Little Girls must be polite and obedient' a hundred times in French. Why don't you do that? "M. and Father said it was very sporting of Mike but nobody must tell you because it wouldn't be fair if you got your first for you to know that you owed it to Mike and I wasn't supposed to hear but I did because I was in the room only they didn't know I was (we were playing hide-and-seek and I was hiding) so I'm writing to tell you. I am quite well.-"I hope you are quite well. She was jolly sick about it. "From your affectionate sister "Marjory. Most authors of sensational matter nurse their bomb-shell. "DEAR BOB" (the letter ran).' and the hero's an awfully nice boy named Lionel Tremayne. with a style of her own. and his friend Jack Langdale saves his life when a beast of a boatman who's really employed by Lionel's cousin who wants the money that Lionel's going to have when he grows up stuns him and leaves him on the beach to drown. She was a breezy correspondent. He put the missive in his pocket. and went to his form-room wondering what Marjory could have found to say to Bob to touch him on the raw to such an extent. There was a curious absence of construction about the letter. Ella cheeked Mademoiselle yesterday. and exhibited it plainly to all whom it might concern. but usually she entertained rather than upset people. I've been reading a jolly good book called 'The Boys of Dormitory Two.P. "P. under the desk. He was just going to read the letter when the bell rang." There followed a P. No suspicion of the actual contents of the letter crossed his mind. Joe made eighty-three against Lancashire. Well. Phyllis has a cold. and display it to the best advantage. lead up to it. but he goes to the headmaster and says he wants Jack to play instead of him.apparently going to be one of some length. For the thousand and first time in her career of crime Marjory had been and done it! With a strong hand she had shaken the cat out of the bag." For the life of him Mike could not help giggling as he pictured what Bob's expression must have been when his brother read this document. I told her it served her right. it . and ceased to wonder. Uncle John told Father that Mike pretended to hurt his wrist so that you could play instead of him for the school. He read it during school. Bob had had cause to look worried. What should he say to Bob? What would Bob say to him? Dash it all.

" said Mike. or did you--you know what I mean--sham a crocked wrist?" "Yes. I couldn't choke him off. he might at least have whispered them. but she had put her foot right in it. "Well?" said Bob. If he was going to let out things like that." Bob scratched thoughtfully at the turf with a spike of his boot. Confound Uncle John! Throughout the dinner-hour Mike kept out of Bob's way.made him look such an awful _ass_! Anyhow. "Did you read it?" "Yes. Bob couldn't do much. You know. The team was filled up. "How do you mean?" said Mike.. No girl ought to be taught to write till she came of age. "Of course. it was beastly awkward." he broke off hotly.. He came down when you were away at Geddington. I mean it was jolly good of you--Dash it all. Marjory meant well. But in a small community like a school it is impossible to avoid a man for ever. and naturally he spotted right away there was nothing the matter with it. "I mean.." "Well. it was awfully decent----" Then again the monstrous nature of the affair came home to him. and all that. I suppose I am. and Burgess was not likely to alter it. as if the putting his position into words had suddenly showed him how inglorious it was. it's like giving a fellow money without consulting him. Besides." Bob stared gloomily at his toes. and would insist on having a look at my arm. apparently putting the finishing-touch to some train of thought. or looked behind the curtains to see that the place wasn't chock-full of female kids." "How did he get to know? Why did you tell him?" "He got it out of me. "I did." "I didn't think you'd ever know. In fact he didn't see that he could do anything. "what did you want to do if _for_? What was the idea? What right have you got to go about playing Providence over me? Dash it all. So it came out. you did _me_ a jolly good turn. I don't know. "But what did you do it _for_? Why should you rot up your own chances to give me a look in?" "Oh. why should he alter it? Probably he would have given Bob his colours anyhow. You wouldn't have if only that ass Uncle John hadn't let it out. And Uncle John had behaved in many respects like the Complete Rotter." he said at last. is it all rot. They met at the nets. Girls oughtn't to meddle with these things. that's how it was." . Still. "I know I ought to be grateful.

This is Philosophy. "if I cannot compel circumstances to my will. "Besides. it is best to sit still and let them straighten themselves out. Half a second." "Oh. like Lionel Tremayne?" The hopelessness of the situation came over Bob like a wave. When affairs get into a real tangle. anyhow." he said. when he awoke. admitting himself beaten. he found himself sitting in the fork of an oak. I just want to speak to Wyatt about something. Or. he altered his plans. but the air was splendid and the view excellent. Mike shuffled uneasily beneath the scrutiny. but it never does any good. finding this impossible. "I shall get in next year all right. and it grew so rapidly that. "Well. He looked helplessly at Mike." Mike said. and slides out of such situations. Others try to grapple with them."I don't remember. "Anyhow. I decide to remain here. He stared at him as if he were some strange creature hitherto unknown to the human race. "I must see Burgess about it." "What about it?" "Well. "so I don't see what's the point of talking about it." added Mike. When?" "That Firby-Smith business. The warmth of his body caused the acorn to germinate. you got me out of a jolly bad hole." Which he did." said Bob to himself. it's all over now. and happened to doze. simply to think no more about them." CHAPTER XXII WYATT IS REMINDED OF AN ENGAGEMENT There are situations in life which are beyond one. rot! And do you mean to tell me it was simply because of that----?" Mike appeared to him in a totally new light. who sat down on an acorn one day. and had a not unpleasant time. I can at least adapt my will to circumstances. . Are you going to the Old Man to ask him if I can play. The sensible man realises this. if one does not do that. One's attitude towards Life's Little Difficulties should be that of the gentleman in the fable." and goes to sleep in his arm-chair. sixty feet from the ground." He sidled off. You don't think I'm going to sit tight and take my first as if nothing had happened?" "What can you do? The list's up. The true philosopher is the man who says "All right. but. He thought he would go home. "Well. The oak lacked some of the comforts of home." "I'm hanged if it is. well.

You simply keep on saying you're all right. "I suppose you can't very well. I don't know if it's occurred to you. and here you _are_. "Still. seeing that the point is. Though. It would not be in the picture. inability hour to get Burgess that it was "Very rum. It's not your fault. Very sporting of your brother and all that. what do you want me to do? Alter the list?" But for the thought of those unspeakable outsiders. if possible. and took the line of least resistance. though. Bob might have answered this question in the affirmative. of course. He still clung to the idea that he and Burgess. might find some way of making things right for everybody. What's he got to grumble about?" "He's not grumbling. Can't you see what a rotten position it is for me?" "Don't you worry. after Mike's fashion." said Bob. what you say doesn't help us out much." "What's the matter with you? Don't you want your first?" "Not like this. And Burgess. but he could _not_ do the self-sacrificing young hero business. It took Bob at least a quarter of an the facts of the case into the captain's head. like the man in the oak-tree. Besides. I could easily fake up some excuse. he did not see how eleven caps were to be divided amongst twelve candidates in such a way that each should have one. in council. At which period he remarked a rum business. Your brother stood out of the team to let you in it. I don't see why I shouldn't stand out of the team for the Ripton match. It's me. So that I'm a lot keen on putting the best team into the field. "Can't you see how rotten it is for me?" "I don't see why." Bob agreed. have to be carried through stealthily. but he had the public-school boy's terror of seeming to pose or do anything theatrical." . "But I must do something. though I'm blowed if I'd have done it myself. These things." "I do. but the idea is rather to win the Ripton match. in it. Imitate this man. at the moment. Tell you what. Lionel Tremayne and his headmaster. but why should you do anything? You're all right. consulted on the point. now it's up. but at last grasped the idea of the thing. Bob should have done so. what's to be done?" "Why do anything?" Burgess was a philosopher. if they are to be done at school.To-day's Great Thought for Young Readers. Sorry if it upsets your arrangements in any way. but he had not the necessary amount of philosophy. confessed to the same to solve the problem. He would have done a good deal to put matters right.

that's why you've got your first instead of him." said Burgess. As the distance between them lessened." "Smith oughtn't to have told you. "I was afraid you mightn't be able to do anything. Wyatt had not seen his friend since the list of the team had been posted on the board." "Mind the step. whatever happens. I've got my first." said Bob." "Oh. You know what I was saying to you about the bust I meant . If you really want to know. Little Willie's going to buy a nice new cap and a pretty striped jacket all for his own self! I say. he did not readily let the idea out of his mind. and I happened to be talking to Firby-Smith and found that young Mike had been shirking his. he did tell me. He's a young slacker. if that's any good to you. his keenness isn't enough to make him turn out for house-fielding. expansive grin. At any rate." said Neville-Smith." "He isn't so keen. Not that you did. Their visit to the nets not having coincided in point of time."You know perfectly well Mike's every bit as good as me. "Thanks. so he proceeded to congratulate him on his colours. he discovered that inside the flannels was Neville-Smith's body and behind the grin the rest of Neville-Smith's face. espied on the horizon a suit of cricket flannels surmounted by a huge." "What do you mean?" "Fielding." "Well. if you don't look out. * * * * * At about the time when this conversation was in progress. so out he went. I remember what it was I wanted to say to you. "Slacker? What rot! He's as keen as anything. Wyatt. So long. and then the top of your head'll come off. and improved your fielding twenty per cent. "Feeling good?" "Not the word for it. You sweated away. all right." "Anyhow. thanks for reminding me. A bad field's bad enough. but supposing you had." "I don't care. I feel like--I don't know what. but a slack field wants skinning. with a brilliant display of front teeth.." When Burgess had once labelled a man as that. That slight smile of yours will meet behind." "I'll tell you what you look like. There won't be any changes from the team I've put up on the board. So you see how it is. as the Greek exercise books say. crossing the cricket-field towards the school shop in search of something fizzy that might correct a burning thirst acquired at the nets.

nor iron bars a have at home in honour of my getting my first. for one. eleven'll do me all right. for goodness sake." "Yes. Anything for a free feed in these hard times." "Said it wasn't good enough. I've often thought of asking my pater for one. Still. I expect. Heave a pebble at it." "Good man. now I come to think of it--what do I do? Ring the bell and send in my card? or smash the nearest window and climb in?" "Don't make too much row. I get on very well." "But one or two day-boys are coming." "No." "That's an aspect of the thing that might occur to some people. Said he didn't want to miss his beauty-sleep. anyhow it's to-night." "The race is degenerating. I'm going to get the things now." "So will the glass--with a run. and I'll come down. if I did. I don't blame him--I might feel like that myself if I'd got another couple of years at school. Make it a bit earlier." "You _will_ turn up. And Beverley. I needn't throw a brick." As Wyatt was turning away. I'll try to do as little damage as possible. You'll see the window of my room. a sudden compunction seized upon . Clephane is." "The school is going to the dogs. It'll be the only one lighted up. What time did you say it was?" "Eleven. It's just above the porch. can't you?" "Delighted." "They ought to allow you a latch-key. We shall have rather a rag." "When I get to your place--I don't believe I know the way. All the servants'll have gone to bed. which I have--well. Who did you ask?" "Clowes was one. They all funked it." "How are you going to get out?" "'Stone walls do not a prison make. Who are coming besides me?" "No boarders. won't you?" "Nothing shall stop me. if you like. After all. I shall manage it.' That's what the man said who wrote the libretto for the last set of Latin Verses we had to do. You can roll up. And Henfrey backed out because he thought the risk of being sacked wasn't good enough. Still.

That ought to be somewhere about half-past ten. I don't know if he keeps a dog. getting back. He called him back." "I shall do my little best not to be. For cat-shooting the Wain spinneys were unsurpassed. The oldest cask of lemonade has been broached. though. "Don't you worry about me." Wyatt very seldom penetrated further than his own garden on the occasions when he roamed abroad at night. but he did not state his view of the case. the windows looking out over the boundless prairie. APPLEBY "You may not know it. Now at Bradford they've got studies on the ground floor. I've got to climb two garden walls. and the wall by the . that's all right. and I shall probably be so full of Malvoisie that you'll be able to hear it swishing about inside me. aren't you? I don't want to get you into a row. Still. "Neville-Smith's giving a meal at his place in honour of his getting his first. The kick-off is fixed for eleven sharp. If so. merriest day of all the glad New Year. I should have gone out anyhow to-night." "When are you going to start?" "About five minutes after Wain has been round the dormitories to see that all's well. I've used all mine. you always are breaking out at night. I shall probably get bitten to the bone. and a sardine is roasting whole in the market-place. No expense has been spared." "Oh." "Don't go getting caught. I am to stand underneath his window and heave bricks till something happens. Rather tricky work." said Wyatt to Mike in the dormitory that night. Ginger-beer will flow like water. "but this is the maddest. "What's up?" he asked." Mike could not help thinking that for himself it was the very reverse. do you? I mean. All you have to do is to open the window and step out. They've no thought for people's convenience here." said Wyatt. we must make the best of things." CHAPTER XXIII A SURPRISE FOR MR.Neville-Smith. you don't think it's too risky. I understand the preparations are on a scale of the utmost magnificence. Push us over a pinch of that tooth-powder of yours. No catch steeple-chasing if you're like that. "I say. No climbing or steeple-chasing needed at all. There was one particular dustbin where one might be certain of flushing a covey any night." "Are you going?" "If I can tear myself away from your delightful society.

and have a flower-bed there instead? Laurels lasted all the year round. Wain's. At present there remained much to be done. true. and let himself out of the back door. but now he felt that it would be better not to delay. he climbed another wall. He dropped cautiously into Appleby's garden. For a few moments he debated the rival claims of a stroll in the cricket-field and a seat in the garden. He climbed down from the wall that ran beneath the dormitory window into the garden belonging to Mr. Appleby. but on these occasions it was best to take no risks. ran lightly across it. * * * * * Now it happened that he was not alone in admiring the beauty of that particular night. It was a glorious July night. From here he could see the long garden. Why not. whereas flowers died and left an empty brown bed in the winter. Appleby. and enjoyed the scents and small summer noises. Much better have flowers. that a pipe in the open would make an excellent break in his night's work. dusted his trousers. and he thought that an interval of an hour in the open air before approaching the half-dozen or so papers which still remained to be looked at might do him good. whatever you did to it. The window of his study was open. sniffing as he walked. and get a decent show for one's money in . The little gate in the railings opposite his house might not be open. At ten-fifteen it had struck Mr. They were all dark. take away those laurels at the end of the lawn. Then he decided on the latter. and dropped from it into a small lane which ended in the main road leading to Wrykyn town. and a garden always had a beastly appearance in winter. and it was a long way round to the main entrance. but then laurels were nothing much to look at at any time. He was in plenty of time. There was a full moon. the master who had the house next to Mr. and where he stood he could be seen distinctly from the windows of both houses. He had acquired a slight headache as the result of correcting a batch of examination papers. He took up his position in the shadow of a fir-tree with his back to the house. There he paused. and strolled meditatively in the direction of the town. But when he did wish to get out into the open country he had a special route which he always took. it is true. Crossing this. and was in the lane within a minute. and spent what few moments he could spare from work and games pottering about it. Nothing like a little fresh air for putting him right. He was fond of his garden. which had suffered on the two walls. but the room had got hot and stuffy. This was the route which he took to-night. and the scent of the flowers came to him with a curious distinctness as he let himself down from the dormitory window. for instance. Half-past ten had just chimed from the school clock. So he took a deck-chair which leaned against the wall.potting-shed was a feline club-house. "What a night!" he said to himself. looking out of his study into the moonlit school grounds. At any other time he might have made a lengthy halt. and he hoped in time to tinker his own three acres up to the desired standard. He had his views as to what the ideal garden should be.

The surprise. and remember that he is in a position of trust. As he dropped into the lane. A master must check it if it occurs too frequently. the extent of the damage done. That reveller was walking down the Wrykyn road before Mr. with the aid of the moonlight. He always played the game. . That was the simple way out of the difficulty. Breaking out at night. on hands and knees. He receives a salary for doing this duty. Mr. He paused. liked and respected by boys and masters. and. and owes a duty directly to his headmaster. of course. He went his way openly.summer at any rate. Appleby recovered himself sufficiently to emit a sort of strangled croak. Appleby smoothed over the cavities. and rose to his feet. Appleby that first awoke to action. examining. Appleby. treat it as if it had never happened. however. There are times when a master must waive sentiment. Appleby had left his chair. It is an interesting point that it was the gardener rather than the schoolmaster in Mr. Appleby. Sentiment. but he may use his discretion. to the parents. he had recognised him. He was just feeling for his matches to relight it when Wyatt dropped with a slight thud into his favourite herbaceous border. it was the fact that the boy had broken out _via_ his herbaceous border. if he feels that sentiment is too strong for him. He knew that there were times when a master might. close his eyes or look the other way. In that startled moment when Wyatt had suddenly crossed his line of vision. By a happy accident Wyatt's boots had gone home to right and left of precious plants but not on them. The moon had shone full on his face as he left the flowerbed. he would have done so. There was nothing of the spy about Mr. he should resign in favour of some one of tougher fibre. There was no doubt in his mind as to the identity of the intruder. It was on another plane. it was not serious. To be out of bounds is not a particularly deadly sin. It was not an easy question. It was not the idea of a boy breaking out of his house at night that occurred to him first as particularly heinous. The difficulty here was to say exactly what the game was. but the sound was too slight to reach Wyatt. without blame. and it had been possible to convey the impression that he had not seen him. There was nothing unsporting about Mr. and the agony of feeling that large boots were trampling among his treasures kept him transfixed for just the length of time necessary for Wyatt to cross the garden and climb the opposite wall. As far as he could see. and indirectly. bade him forget the episode. through the headmaster. In four strides he was on the scene of the outrage. was a different thing altogether. at the end of which period he discovered that his pipe had gone out. wondering how he should act. At this point it began to strike him that the episode affected him as a schoolmaster also. The problem of the bed at the end of the lawn occupied his complete attention for more than a quarter of an hour. If he had met Wyatt out of bounds in the day-time. With a sigh of relief Mr.

instead of through the agency of the headmaster." said Mr. I'm afraid. shall I? No need to unlock the door. and he had a view of a room littered with books and papers. "Wouldn't have disturbed you. he folded his deck-chair and went into the house." Mr. having a pipe before finishing the rest of my papers." began Mr. He could not let the matter rest where it was. but they would have to wait. Wain's surprise and rather to his disapproval. Wain recognised his visitor and opened the window. Appleby said this with a tinge of bitterness. Wain. ." "James!" "I was sitting in my garden a few minutes ago. and the sound of a chair being pushed back told him that he had been heard." "Sorry. He would lay the whole thing before Mr. like a sea-beast among rocks. It was one of the few cases where it was possible for an assistant master to fulfil his duty to a parent directly. Exceedingly so. and squeezed through into the room. and walked round to Wain's." And. and leave him to deal with it as he thought best. Appleby could not help feeling how like Wain it was to work on a warm summer's night in a hermetically sealed room. There was always something queer and eccentric about Wyatt's step-father. * * * * * Knocking out the ashes of his pipe against a tree. He tapped on the window. "I'll smoke. In ordinary circumstances it would have been his duty to report the affair to the headmaster but in the present case he thought that a slightly different course might be pursued. greatly to Mr. The blind shot up. and Wyatt dropped from the wall on to my herbaceous border. I'll climb in through here. if you don't mind. Appleby came over his relighted pipe. in the middle of which stood Mr. Wain. There was a light in one of the ground-floor windows. Wain?" he said. Mr. Appleby. The examination papers were spread invitingly on the table. "Can I have a word with you. CHAPTER XXIV CAUGHT "Got some rather bad news for you. Appleby.This was the conclusion to which Mr. About Wyatt. Appleby vaulted on to the window-sill. "Appleby! Is there anything the matter? I was startled when you tapped. He turned down his lamp. only it's something important. The thing still rankled. Mr. Mr.

It's like daylight out of doors. He plays substitute for the parent in his absence." said Mr. sit down. Wain drummed on the table with his fingers. Everybody who has ever broken out of his house here and been caught has been expelled. Gaping astonishment is always apt to be irritating. That is certainly the course I should pursue. Why."James! In your garden! Impossible. You are certain it was James?" "Perfectly. He would have no choice. "A good deal." said Mr." "There is certainly something in what you say. Tackle the boy when he comes in." "How is such a thing possible? His window is heavily barred. He was wondering what would happen. Good-night. Appleby made his way out of the window and through the gate into his own territory in a pensive frame of mind. Wain on reflection." "I don't see why. and." Mr. If you come to think of it. "I ought to report it to the headmaster." "You must have been mistaken." Mr. Appleby offered no suggestion. He hoped . Got a pile of examination papers to look over. You are quite right. You are not going?" "Must. I don't see why you should drag in the master at all here. "Let's leave it at that. It isn't like an ordinary case. Appleby. this is most extraordinary. Appleby. Yes. Appleby. a little nettled." "No. "What shall I do?" Mr. He had taken the only possible course." "Good-night. I should strongly advise you to deal with the thing yourself. it is not a quarter of an hour since I left him in his dormitory. a headmaster's only a sort of middleman between boys and parents. Sorry to have disturbed you." "Bars can be removed." "You astound me. Remember that it must mean expulsion if you report him to the headmaster. Exceedingly so. Dear me. Appleby. I am astonished." "Possibly. That is a very good idea of yours." "He's not there now. then. if only Wain kept his head and did not let the matter get through officially to the headmaster. You can deal with the thing directly. things might not be so bad for Wyatt after all." "I will." "So was I. You're the parent. and have it out with him.

He liked Wyatt. There was nothing of the sorrowing father about his frame of mind. The house-master sat down quietly on the vacant bed. He blew the candle out. Wain sat on for some minutes after his companion had left. What would Wain do? What would _he_ do in a similar case? It was difficult to say. as a complete nuisance. It was not all roses. Mr. from the moment when the threads of their lives became entangled. and he was taking a rather gloomy view of the assistant master's lot as he sat down to finish off the rest of his examination papers. But there had never been anything even remotely approaching friendship between them. and then consider the episode closed. It was not. by silent but mutual agreement. and the night was warm. and nothing else. he reflected wrathfully. Then it occurred to him that he could easily prove or disprove the truth of his colleague's statement by going to the dormitory and seeing if Wyatt were there or not. He grunted.. broken by various small encounters. therefore. Gradually he began to convince himself of this. asleep. Wyatt he had regarded. Wain was not a man who inspired affection readily. For years he and Wyatt had lived in a state of armed neutrality. Nor did he easily grow fond of others. It would be a thousand pities. Even now he clung to the idea that Appleby had made some extraordinary mistake. and turned over with his face to the wall as the light shone on his eyes.... He was the house-master about to deal with a mutineer. and walked quietly upstairs. but apparently on the verge of dropping off. He had seen Wyatt actually in bed a quarter of an hour before--not asleep. This breaking-out.they would not. pondering over the news he had heard. Altogether it was very painful and disturbing. Lately. a sorrowful. so much as an exasperated. The light of the candle fell on both beds. And the bars across the window had looked so solid. He doubted whether Wain would have the common sense to do this. Mike was there. one of the bars was missing from the window. he would hardly have returned yet. If further proof had been needed. was the last straw. If he had gone out.. But the other bed was empty. He had been working hard. . least of all in those many years younger than himself. But he was the last man to shirk the duty of reporting him. he felt. Appleby had been right. Appleby was the last man who would willingly have reported a boy for enjoying a midnight ramble. Mr. Arrived at his step-son's dormitory. He took a candle. Could Appleby have been dreaming? Something of the kind might easily have happened. Probably talk violently for as long as he could keep it up.. merely because it was one decidedly not to his taste. Mr. thinking. and waited there in the semi-darkness. he turned the door-handle softly and went in. if he were to be expelled. it was true. He had continually to be sinking his own individual sympathies in the claims of his duty. vigil that he kept in the dormitory. the life of an assistant master at a public school. they had kept out of each other's way as much as possible. The moon shone in through the empty space. and it had become rare for the house-master to have to find fault officially with his step-son.

* * * * * Every minute that passed seemed like an hour to Mike. as the house-master shifted his position. and rubbed his hands together. And--this was a particularly grateful reflection--a fortnight annually was the limit of the holiday allowed by the management to its junior employees. The discipline of the bank would be salutary and steadying. Then he seemed to recover himself. and was beginning to feel a little cramped. . broken every now and then by the creak of the other bed. He lay down again without a word. and that immediately. At that moment Mr. Twelve boomed across the field from the school clock. "Hullo. "Go to sleep. Mr. What a frightful thing to happen! How on earth had this come about? What in the world had brought Wain to the dormitory at that hour? Poor old Wyatt! If it had upset _him_ (Mike) to see the house-master in the room. Dead silence reigned in the dormitory. Absolutely and entirely the game was up. and presently the patch of moonlight on the floor was darkened. Jackson. "Hullo!" said Mike. returning from the revels at Neville-Smith's! And what could he do? Nothing. The most brilliant of _coups_ could effect nothing now. It was with a comfortable feeling of magnanimity that he resolved not to report the breach of discipline to the headmaster." snapped the house-master. is that you. Then a very faint scraping noise broke the stillness. asking them to receive his step-son at once. The unexpected glare took Wyatt momentarily aback. Mike saw him start. He strained his ears for any indication of Wyatt's approach. Mike had often heard and read of people's hearts leaping to their mouths. The time had come to put an end to it. His mind went back to the night when he had saved Wyatt by a brilliant _coup_. But he should leave. Wyatt dusted his knees. Wyatt should not be expelled. immediately. His voice sounded ominously hollow. There was literally no way out. when Mike Jackson suddenly sat up. and the letter should go by the first post next day. but he had never before experienced that sensation of something hot and dry springing in the throat.Wyatt's presence had been a nervous inconvenience to him for years. Wain. what would be the effect of such a sight on Wyatt. Wain had arrived at this conclusion. He would write to the bank before he went to bed. "James!" said Mr. father!" he said pleasantly. Wain relit his candle. but could hear nothing. In a calm and leisurely manner he climbed into the room. A sickening feeling that the game was up beyond all hope of salvation came to him. which is what really happens to us on receipt of a bad shock. Mike could not help thinking what a perfect night it must be for him to be able to hear the strokes so plainly.

What'll happen?" "That's for him to decide. "That reminds me." said Wyatt at last. sir." "What'll he do. rolling with laughter. I should say----" "You don't think----?" "The boot. Then Mr. Wain spoke. Suppose I'd better go down. but I'm afraid it's a case of 'Au revoir. The swift and sudden boot. I shall be sorry to part with you. I say. Mike began to get alarmed. I say. I suppose. Wyatt continued to giggle helplessly. speaking with difficulty. completely thrown off his balance by the events of the night. how long had he been sitting there?" "It seemed hours." said Wyatt. what!" "But. "I say. Wyatt!" said Mike. "It's all right. do you think?" "Ah. "You have been out.CHAPTER XXV MARCHING ORDERS A silence followed. lying in bed." "It's the funniest thing I've ever struck. my little Hyacinth. He flung himself down on his bed." "I got a bit of a start myself. To Mike. "Yes. and all the time him camping out on my bed!" "But look here. "I am astonished. what'll happen?" Wyatt sat up.' We . "But. Exceedingly astonished." He left the room." said Wyatt. Speaking at a venture. holding his breath. really." "Yes. it's awful. As a matter of fact it lasted for perhaps ten seconds. sir. and Wyatt suddenly began to chuckle. Follow me there. About an hour. James?" It is curious how in the more dramatic moments of life the inane remark is the first that comes to us. it seemed a long silence. "I shall talk to you in my study. Me sweating to get in quietly. now.

sir. out of the house." * * * * * In the study Mr. 'tis well! Lead on. "Well." "I'll tell you all the latest news when I come back. We'd better all get to bed _some_ time to-night. James." "And. minions. then. "Well?" "I haven't one. at that hour?" "I went for a walk. James?" Wyatt said nothing. Where are me slippers? Ha." "What?" "Yes." "Not likely. I follow. Wain was fumbling restlessly with his papers when Wyatt appeared. "Exceedingly. Wain jumped nervously. choking sob. That'll be me." Mr. One of his slippers fell off with a clatter. sir." The pen rose and fell with the rapidity of the cylinder of a . Wain took up a pen. Mr. "Sit down. "Only my slipper. may I inquire." "The fact is----" said Wyatt. To-morrow I shall go out into the night with one long." Wyatt nodded agreement with this view. "It slipped. Well." explained Wyatt. are you in the habit of violating the strictest school rules by absenting yourself from the house during the night?" "Yes. Years hence a white-haired bank-clerk will tap at your door when you're a prosperous professional cricketer with your photograph in _Wisden_. Don't go to sleep." "This is an exceedingly serious matter. sir. "I should be glad to hear your explanation of this disgraceful matter. This is my Moscow." "What were you doing out of your dormitory. and began to tap the table. Wyatt sat down. I suppose I'd better go down." he said.shall meet at Philippi. sir.

even were I disposed to do so. Wain suspended tapping operations. James. Have you anything to say?" Wyatt reflected. sir. You have repeatedly proved yourself lacking in ballast and a respect for discipline in smaller ways." "I need hardly say. It is impossible for me to overlook it.motor-car. It is not fitting. Only it _was_ sending me off. I have already secured a nomination for you in the London and Oriental Bank. to see this attitude in you. It's sending me to sleep. "It is expulsion." Wyatt nodded. "As you know. James. exceedingly. "that I shall treat you exactly as I should treat any other member of my house whom I had detected in the same misdemeanour. "I wish you wouldn't do that. You will not go to school to-morrow. "I am sorry. and resumed the thread of his discourse. I shall arrange with the headmaster that you are withdrawn privately----" "_Not_ the sack?" "Withdrawn privately. You must leave the school." "You will leave directly I receive his letter. Tap like that. In a minute or two he would be asleep. Wain." said Wyatt laconically. Exceedingly so. approvingly. ignoring the interruption. "I must ask you not to interrupt me when I am speaking to you. Wyatt. I mean." Mr. I say that your punishment will be no whit less severe than would be that of any other boy. Your conduct has been lax and reckless in the extreme." continued Mr. ." said Wyatt. but this is a far more serious matter. It is in keeping with your behaviour throughout." "Studied impertinence----" "I'm very sorry. I shall write to-morrow to the manager asking him to receive you at once----" "After all. father." "James!" "It's like a woodpecker. became suddenly aware that the thing was hypnotising him. Do you understand? That is all. watching it. At once. they only gain an extra fortnight of me." "Of course. It is possible that you imagine that the peculiar circumstances of our relationship secure you from the penalties to which the ordinary boy----" "No. You are aware of the penalty for such an action as yours?" "The sack.

Mike. or some rot. yes. By the quarter to eleven interval next day the facts concerning Wyatt and Mr. He isn't coming to school again. Wain were public property." [Illustration: "WHAT'S ALL THIS ABOUT JIMMY WYATT?"] "So he has--at least. Wyatt kicked off his slippers. his eyes rolling in a fine frenzy." he said." "Has he let you off?" "Like a gun. he's got to leave. father. "Buck up." Burgess's first thought. ." said Wyatt cheerfully. "Anybody seen young--oh. but it failed to comfort him. and began to undress. before I go off to bed?" * * * * * "Well?" said Mike." Mike was miserably silent. "Oh. I don't think----" His eye fell on a tray bearing a decanter and a syphon. here you are. as an actual spectator of the drama. I shoot off almost immediately. Burgess came up. CHAPTER XXVI THE AFTERMATH Bad news spreads quickly. The reflection was doubtless philosophic. was for his team."No. "It would have happened anyhow in another fortnight. What's all this about Jimmy Wyatt? They're saying he's been sacked. all amongst the ink and ledgers. "Can't I mix you a whisky and soda." "What? When?" "He's left already. So why worry?" Mike was still silent. As he told the story to a group of sympathisers outside the school shop. "What happened?" "We chatted. was in great request as an informant. To-morrow I take a well-earned rest away from school. and the day after I become the gay young bank-clerk. as befitted a good cricket captain.

I suppose you won't be seeing him before he goes?" "I shouldn't think so. withdrawn. during the night. young Jackson. Mike!" said Bob." "What's he going to do? Going into that bank straight away?" "Yes." agreed Mike. You know. what's all this about Wyatt?" "Wain caught him getting back into the dorm." "All right. but the chief sensation seemed to be one of pleasurable excitement at the fact that something big had happened to break the monotony of school routine. You'll play on Saturday. I expect. Hope he does." said Mike. but I shouldn't be surprised if he nipped out after Wain has gone to bed. Mike felt bitter and disappointed at the way the news had been received. He's sleeping over in Wain's part of the house. Not unless he comes to the dorm. without enthusiasm. you'll turn out for fielding with the first this afternoon. "Hullo. But Mike had no opportunity of learning this. that's the part he bars most. Bob was the next to interview him. He'd have been leaving anyhow in a fortnight. "I say. and it offended him that the school should take the tidings of his departure as they had done. anyway. one member of the school who did not treat the episode as if it were merely an . Look here. "What rot for him!" "Beastly. the cricket captain wrote a letter to Wyatt during preparation that night which would have satisfied even Mike's sense of what was fit. And Burgess had actually cursed before sympathising." continued Burgess. Most of them who had come to him for information had expressed a sort of sympathy with the absent hero of his story. They treated the thing much as they would have treated the announcement that a record score had been made in first-class cricket. But I don't suppose it'll be possible. and he's taken him away from the school. last night after Neville-Smith's. however. his pal. The Wyatt disaster was too recent for him to feel much pleasure at playing against Ripton _vice_ his friend. "All the same. As a matter of fact. There was. The school was not so much regretful as comfortably thrilled. though!" he added after a pause. Wyatt was his best friend. "Dash the man! Silly ass! What did he want to do it for! Poor old Jimmy. "he might have chucked playing the goat till after the Ripton match. with a return to the austere manner of the captain of cricket. They met in the cloisters."And the Ripton match on Saturday!" Nobody seemed to have anything except silent sympathy at his command. one exception to the general rule." They separated in the direction of their respective form-rooms. Mike felt resentful towards Burgess." "I should like to say good-bye. only it's awful rot for a chap like Wyatt to have to go and froust in a bank for the rest of his life." "He'll find it rather a change. you see.

You don't happen to have got sacked or anything. and we shall take the field on Saturday with a scratch side of kids from the Junior School. I don't know. he'd probably have gone out somewhere else. He did not attempt conversation till they reached Neville-Smith proceeded on his of soothing Neville-Smith's wounded it. He was too late to catch him before he went to his form-room. "If it hadn't been for me." Mike was not equal to the task conscience. There was no doubt about Neville-Smith's interest and sympathy. when the bell rang for the end of morning school. as far as I can see. Neville-Smith heard of what had happened towards the end of the interval." "Neville-Smith! Why. plunged in meditation. If Wyatt hadn't gone to him. going over to the nets rather late in the afternoon. we shall play Ripton on Saturday with a sort of second eleven. Jackson. I'm blowed if Neville-Smith doesn't toddle off to the Old Man after school to-day and tell him the whole yarn! Said it was all his fault. do you?" "What's happened now?" "Neville-Smith. and it was while coming back from that that Wyatt got collared. what's he been doing?" "Apparently he gave a sort of supper to celebrate his getting his first. and rushed off instantly in search of Mike. In extra on Saturday. Only our first. by the way. What rot! Sort of thing that might have happened to any one." . They walked on without further Wain's gate. "Only that. way." said Burgess." said Mike.interesting and impersonal item of sensational news.and second-change bowlers out of the team for the Ripton match in one day. I suppose by to-morrow half the others'll have gone. came upon the captain of cricket standing apart from his fellow men with an expression on his face that spoke of mental upheavals on a vast scale. "Nothing much." "Oh. so he waited for him at half-past twelve. Bob. What a fool I was to ask him to my place! I might have known he would be caught. The result of which meditation was that Burgess got a second shock before the day was out. That's all. "I say. where Mike left him. "What happened?" Mike related the story for the sixteenth time. is this true about old Wyatt?" Mike nodded. "It was absolutely my fault." he said at length. with a forced and grisly calm. Well. "What's up?" asked Bob. "It was all my fault. this wouldn't have happened. He was silent for a moment after Mike had finished. It was a melancholy pleasure to have found a listener who heard the tale in the right spirit.

The reflection that he had done all that could be done tended to console him for the non-appearance of Wyatt either that night or next morning--a non-appearance which was due to the simple fact that he passed that night in a bed in Mr. I should think. And he can ride. I may hold a catch for a change." "What's that?" "A way of getting him out of that bank." Burgess grunted. His brother Joe had been born in Buenos Ayres. All these things seemed to show that Mr." "By Jove. Mike was just putting on his pads. If it comes off.C. Bob went on his way to the nets. his father had gone over there for a visit.C. They whacked the M. He had long retired from active superintendence of his estate.C. from all accounts. He never chucked the show altogether. So Mr. and Mike was going to the fountain-head of things when he wrote to his father that night. the Argentine Republic. and once. a stout fellow with the work-taint highly developed. who asked nothing better than to be left in charge. putting forward Wyatt's claims to attention and ability to perform any sort of job with which he might be presented. you never know what's going to happen at cricket. "I say. that's to say. Spenlow. made. was profoundly ignorant as to the details by which his father's money had been. He must be able to work it. . Stronger than the one we drew with. I've thought of something. "I wanted to see you. Wain's dressing-room. to start with. or was being.C. I know. I'll write to father to-night. Mike. But he still had a decided voice in the ordering of affairs on the ranches. Jackson had returned to the home of his fathers. who believed in taking no chances." "Are Ripton strong this year?" asked Bob. Jolly hot team of M. where countless sheep lived and had their being. Mike's father owned vast tracts of land up country. did he?" Mike. too."And the Old Man shoved him in extra?" "Next two Saturdays. for lack of anything better to say. As a matter of fact." said Bob. well. he'd jump at anything. "Very. presumably on business. the door of which that cautious pedagogue. What's the idea?" "Why shouldn't he get a job of sorts out in the Argentine? There ought to be heaps of sound jobs going there for a chap like Wyatt. I shouldn't wonder if it wasn't rather a score to be able to shoot out there. He's a jolly good shot. Jackson senior was a useful man to have about if you wanted a job in that Eldorado. three years ago. He only knew vaguely that the source of revenue had something to do with the Argentine." "Oh. glad to be there again. It's about Wyatt. Like Mr." "By Jove. as most other boys of his age would have been. he had a partner.

" "H'm ." "Cricketer?" "Yes. sir." His advent had apparently caused little sensation. sir. Racquets?" "Yes. A letter from Wyatt also lay on his plate when he came down to breakfast." After which a Mr.. It was a pity that a boy accustomed to shoot cats should be condemned for the rest of his life to shoot nothing more exciting than his cuffs. Wyatt's letter was longer. It might have been published under the title "My First Day in a Bank.." "H'm . so that Wyatt would extract at least some profit from his visit. which had run as follows: "Mr.. if Mike's friend added to this a general intelligence and amiability. In any case he would buy him a lunch. Mr. He had first had a brief conversation with the manager. Jackson's letter was short. sir. These letters he would then stamp." "Play football?" "Yes. sir. CHAPTER XXVII THE RIPTON MATCH Mike got an answer from his father on the morning of the Ripton match." "Everything?" "Yes.. Well. Sportsman?" "Yes.. He said that he hoped something could be managed. there was no reason why something should not be done for him. sir. Wyatt?" "Yes. you won't get any more of it now.. by a Beginner. in which he was to inscribe the addresses of all out-going letters." "H'm . but to the point. and subsequently take in bundles to the . Blenkinsop had led him up to a vast ledger. He added that being expelled from a public school was not the only qualification for success as a sheep-farmer. sir. He said he would go and see Wyatt early in the next week. and a skill for picking off cats with an air-pistol and bull's-eyes with a Lee-Enfield. but that.locked from the outside on retiring to rest.

" said Mr. if I were you. "I should win the toss to-day.C. was not going to be drawn into discussing Wyatt and his premature departure. "Just what I was thinking. Once a week he would be required to buy stamps. the wicket would be too wet to be difficult. if the sun comes out. It would just suit him. I suppose. "If I were one of those Napoleons of Finance. It was evident to those who woke early on the Saturday morning that this Ripton match was not likely to end in a draw. To do only averagely well. At eleven-thirty." "That wicket's going to get nasty after lunch. inspecting the wicket with Mr. Even twenty. now that the world of commerce has found that it can't get on without me. Spence during the quarter to eleven interval." Mr. There was that feeling in the air which shows that the sun is trying to get through the clouds. champion catch-as-catch-can stamp-stealer of the British Isles. and at six in the morning there was every prospect of another hot day. Honours were heaped upon him. by J. match. and then perhaps Burgess'll give you your first after all. Still.' which is a sort of start. It was a day on which to win the toss. The sky was a dull grey at breakfast time. It was Victory or Westminster Abbey now. sir. When that happened there would be trouble for the side that was batting. Mind you make a century. Look out for an article in the _Wrykynian_. I'm afraid I wasn't cut out for a business career. if it got the school out of a tight place." * * * * * This had occurred to Mike independently. Spence. There were twelve colours given three years ago. Spence. this." "I wish we _had_ Rhodes. and go in first. to be among the ruck. and embezzle stamps to an incredible amount. But it doesn't seem in my line. "Who will go on first with you. when the match was timed to begin. so he diverted the conversation on to the subject of the general aspect of the school's attack. Wyatt. The Ripton match was a special event. Burgess. Runs would come easily till the sun came out and began to dry the ground. and entered it up under the heading 'Sundries. 'Hints for Young Criminals. It had stopped late at night. as far as his chance of his first was concerned. Burgess?" .C. as a member of the staff." wrote Wyatt. and the man who performed any outstanding feat against that school was treated as a sort of Horatius. except where a flush of deeper colour gave a hint of the office. because one chap left at half-term and the man who played instead of him came off against Ripton. Burgess. I suppose you are playing against Ripton. "I should cook the accounts. was not slow to recognise this fact. If he could only make a century! or even fifty." said Burgess. He was as nervous on the Saturday morning as he had been on the morning of the M. I have stamped this letter at the expense of the office. would be as useless as not playing at all. During the Friday rain had fallen almost incessantly in a steady drizzle. "Or even Wyatt.' So long. A regular Rhodes wicket it's going to be.

and they had played against one another at football and cricket for two years now." said Burgess ruefully. "It's awfully good of you to suggest it." said Maclaine. It's a hobby of mine. I think. He wasn't in the team last year. Plays racquets for them too. Even with plenty of sawdust I doubt if it will be possible to get a decent foothold till after lunch. I suppose?" "Yes--after us. If he'd had a chance of getting a bit of practice yesterday. A boy called de Freece." "Tails it is." "I must win the toss. They had been at the same private school. On a pitch that suited him he was apt to turn from leg and get people out caught at the wicket or short slip. we sha'n't have long to wait for our knock." "That rain will have a lot to answer for if we lose. about our batting." Ellerby bowled medium inclining to slow." "You'll put us in. though I'm afraid you'll have a poor time bowling fast to-day."Who do you think. but that they've got a slow leg-break man who might be dangerous on a day like this. were old acquaintances. as they met on the pavilion steps after they had changed. I believe. "One consolation is. win the toss." "I know the chap. He said that on a true wicket there was not a great deal of sting in their bowling. Mac. I was talking to a man who played against them for the Nomads." * * * * * Burgess and Maclaine. it might have been all right. Looks as if it were going away. hard wicket I'm certain we should beat them four times out of six. The other's yours. the Ripton captain. "It's a nuisance too. Ellerby." "I don't think a lot of that. He was crocked when they came here. I've lost the toss five times running. well. He's a pretty useful chap all round. that that sort of ball is easier to watch on a slow wicket. I must tell the fellows to look out for it." "I should." "Heads. And. so I was bound to win to-day. my friend said he had one very dangerous ball. He played wing three for them at footer against us this year on their ground. I don't know of him. "Certainly. sir? Ellerby? It might be his wicket. "We'll go in first. On a dry. though. above all. Marsh will probably be dead out of form after being in the Infirmary so long. This end. and comes in instead. that's a ." "Oh. "but I think we'll toss." "Well." said Burgess. of the Bosanquet type. I ought to have warned you that you hadn't a chance. You call." said Burgess.

The score mounted rapidly. but after that hour singles would be as valuable as threes and boundaries an almost unheard-of luxury. as it generally does. as he would want the field paved with it. Maclaine's instructions to his men were to go on hitting. gave place to Grant. In spite of frequent libations of sawdust. Seventy-four for three became eighty-six for five. run out. as also happened now. So Ripton went in to hit. His contentment increased when he got the next man leg-before-wicket with the total unaltered. There is a certain type of school batsman who considers that to force the game means to swipe blindly at every ball on the chance of taking it half-volley. This policy sometimes leads to a boundary or two. At this rate Ripton would be out before lunch for under a hundred. was large enough in view of the fact that the pitch was already becoming more difficult. but the score. who relied on a run that was a series of tiger-like leaps culminating in a spring that suggested that he meant to lower the long jump record. he was compelled to tread cautiously. But the rot stopped with the fall of that wicket. They meant to force the game. Another hour of play remained before lunch. Maclaine. For about an hour run-getting ought to be a tolerably simple process. which was now shining brightly. and this robbed his bowling of much of its pace. Dashing tactics were laid aside." And Burgess went off to tell the ground-man to have plenty of sawdust ready. The deterioration of the wicket would be slow during that period. for whom constant practice had robbed this sort of catch of its terrors. to make Ripton feel that the advantage was with them. and let's get at you. Burgess. Already the sun was beginning to peep through the haze. and was certain to get worse. Twenty came in ten minutes. The policy proved successful for a time. held it. as it did on this occasion. They plodded on. The pitch had begun to play tricks. At sixty Ellerby. scoring slowly and jerkily till the hands of the clock stood at half-past one. who had found the pitch too soft for him and had been expensive. Buck up and send some one in. but it means that wickets will fall. * * * * * The policy of the Ripton team was obvious from the first over. The sun. would put in its deadliest work from two o'clock onwards. At thirty-five the first wicket fell. found himself badly handicapped by the state of the ground. after hitting the first two balls to the boundary. A too liberal interpretation of the meaning of the verb "to hit" led to the departure of two more Riptonians in the course of the next two overs. skied the third to Bob Jackson in the deep. Then . and Bob. The change worked. A yorker from Burgess disposed of the next man before he could settle down.comfort. Grant bowled what were supposed to be slow leg-breaks. but which did not always break. seventy-four for three wickets. Burgess began to look happier. and the pair now in settled down to watch the ball.

but he had also a very accurate eye. the slow bowler. with the score at a hundred and thirty-one. and a four bye sent up a hundred and sixty. did what Burgess had failed to do. There is often a certain looseness about the attack after lunch. He mowed Burgess's first ball to the square-leg boundary. What made it especially irritating now was the knowledge that a straight yorker would solve the whole thing. He bowled a straight. The last man had just gone to the wickets. who had gone on again instead of Grant. That period which is always so dangerous. So far it was anybody's game. and it will be their turn to bat. His record score. it was not a yorker. and his one hit. for the last ten minutes. he explained to Mike. found his leg-stump knocked back. He was apparently a young gentleman wholly free from the curse of nervousness. Every run was invaluable now. proved fatal to two more of the enemy. medium-paced yorker. He had made twenty-eight. and de Freece. swiping at it with a bright smile. Just a ball or two to the last man. and with it the luncheon interval. and snicked the third for three over long-slip's head. The scoring-board showed an increase of twenty as the result of three overs. beat the less steady of the pair with a ball that pitched on the middle stump and shot into the base of the off. they resent it. as they walked . CHAPTER XXVIII MIKE WINS HOME The Ripton last-wicket man was de Freece. At the fall of the ninth wicket the fieldsmen nearly always look on their outing as finished. when a quarter to two arrived. and the Ripton contingent made the pavilion re-echo as a fluky shot over mid-on's head sent up the hundred and fifty. If the last man insists on keeping them out in the field. missed his second. who had been missing the stumps by fractions of an inch. It resembles in its effect the dragging-out of a book or play after the _dénouement_ has been reached. and Wrykyn had plenty of opportunity of seeing that that was his normal expression when at the wickets. it was not straight. And when he bowled a straight ball. the ten minutes before lunch. The other batsman played out the over. when Ellerby. A hundred and twenty had gone up on the board at the beginning of the over. when the wicket is bad.Ellerby. It was beginning to look as if this might go on for ever. He seemed to be a batsman with only one hit. came off with distressing frequency. which suggested the golf links rather than the cricket field. There are few things more exasperating to the fielding side than a last-wicket stand. and de Freece proceeded to treat Ellerby's bowling with equal familiarity. But when Burgess bowled a yorker. He wore a cheerful smile as he took guard before receiving the first ball after lunch. and the bowler of googlies took advantage of it now. A four and a three to de Freece. a semicircular stroke.

rather than confidence that their best." he said. they had met the Incogniti on a bad wicket. and he answers it in nine cases out of ten in the negative. stick a bat in the way. Wrykyn would have gone in against a score of a hundred and sixty-six with the cheery intention of knocking off the runs for the loss of two or three wickets. was the spirit which animated the team when they opened their innings. Morris sat down and began to take off his pads. "Morris is out. Hullo. and their total--with Wyatt playing and making top score--had worked out at a hundred and seven.-b. "L. A grim determination to do their best. Berridge. when done.-w. hard condition. Berry? He doesn't always break. * * * * * With the ground in its usual true. But Berridge survived the ordeal. . But ordinary standards would not apply here. "Thought the thing was going to break. he the pavilion. On a bad wicket--well. "It's that googly man. if he doesn't look out. He breaks like sin all over the shop. and make for the pavilion. It would have been a gentle canter for them. He thought it was all right. Berry.-b." "Good gracious! How?" asked Ellerby. Watch that de Freece man like a hawk." said Burgess helpfully. First ball. when Morris was seen to leave the crease. For goodness sake." "My aunt! Who's in next? Not me?" "No. emerging from the room with one pad on his leg and the other in his hand. On a good wicket Wrykyn that season were a two hundred and fifty to three hundred side. do you think?" A batsman who has been given l. would be anything record-breaking. "That chap'll have Berry. is always asked this question on his return to the pavilion. "What's happened?" shouted a voice from the interior of the first eleven room." "Hear that.-w. and not your legs. And in five minutes this had changed to a dull gloom. Morris was the tenth case. You must look out for that. The Ripton total was a hundred and sixty-six. but it didn't. for this or any ground. Morris! Bad luck! Were you out. The tragedy started with the very first ball." said Burgess blankly. He turned his first ball to leg for a single. It hardly seemed that the innings had begun.

Last man duck. changed his stroke suddenly and tried to step back. Ellerby took off his pads." Ellerby echoed the remark. He sent them down medium-pace. and on a good wicket would probably have been simple. and I don't believe they've any bowling at all bar de Freece. He had then. A no-ball in the same over sent up the first ten. we might have a chance. stumped. The cloud began to settle again. and scoring a couple of twos off it. "It's getting trickier every minute. and took off his blazer. The star of the Ripton attack was evidently de Freece. and to be on the eve of batting does not make one conversational. Mike nodded.. The bowler at the other end looked fairly plain. Ten for two was not good." he said. but it was considerably better than one for two. and dropped into the chair next to Mike's. The wicket'll get better. if we can only stay in. The voice of the scorer.. With the score Freece. He was in after Bob. and the wicket-keeper was clapping his gloved hands gently and slowly in the introspective. He got up." . but this the next ball. and the second tragedy occurred." said Ellerby. and the next moment the bails had shot up like the _débris_ of a small explosion. Ellerby was missed in the slips off de been playing with slowly increasing confidence till seemed to throw him out of his stride. Bob's out!. dreamy way wicket-keepers have on these occasions. By George. It was evident from the way he shaped that Marsh was short of practice. the cloud began perceptibly to lift. jumping out to drive. Berridge relieved the tension a little by playing safely through the over. broke it. The last of the over had him in two minds. "You in next?" asked Ellerby. addressing from his little wooden hut the melancholy youth who was working the telegraph-board. He scratched awkwardly at three balls without hitting them. His visit to the Infirmary had taken the edge off his batting. He started to play forward. he was smartly at thirty. But to-day there was danger in the most guileless-looking deliveries. Bob was the next man in. but actually lifted a loose ball on to the roof of the scoring-hut. "The only thing is. Mike was silent and thoughtful. "isn't it! I wonder if the man at the other end is a sort of young Rhodes too!" Fortunately he was not. No. And when Ellerby not only survived the destructive de Freece's second over. "One for two. he isn't. A silence that could be felt brooded over the pavilion.This brought Marsh to the batting end. "This is all right. He played inside and was all but bowled: and then.

"Forty-one for four. the bowler re-tying the scarf round his waist." said Mike. and had nearly met the same fate. He seemed to be watching his body walking to the wickets. Third man was returning the ball as the batsmen crossed. however. Berridge was out by a yard. Jackson." said Ellerby. as Ellerby had done. more by accident than by accurate timing. He noticed small things--mid-off chewing bits of grass. It had been an ordeal having to wait and look on while wickets fell." said Ellerby. But now his feelings were different. the batsmen crossed. 5. The bowler's cheerful smile never varied.. I believe we might win yet. "That's the way I was had. When he had gone out to bat against the M. _fortissimo_. had fumbled the ball. for in the middle of the other bowler's over Bob hit a single. the captain put on two more fours past extra-cover. The melancholy youth put up the figures. on the occasion of his first appearance for the school." said Ellerby. get _back_!" Berridge had called Bob for a short run that was obviously no run. If only somebody would knock him off his length. you silly ass. on the board. little patches of brown where the turf had been worn away.. Mike.Bob had jumped out at one of de Freece's slows. He was cool. "Help!" Burgess began his campaign against de Freece by skying his first ball over cover's head to the boundary. The wicket-keeper." "All right. 12. Oh. There was no sense of individuality. He took guard with a clear picture of the positions of the fieldsmen photographed on his brain. he experienced a quaint sensation of unreality. but now that the time of inaction was at an end he felt curiously composed. and try and knock that man de Freece off.C. The next moment the wicket-keeper had the bails off. He came to where Mike was sitting." said Mike. "This is just the sort of time when he might have come off. when." he said. Every little helps. .. "Good man. "I shall go in next myself and swipe. "I'm going to shove you down one. as if it were some one else's. 54. Whether Burgess would have knocked de Freece off his length or not was a question that was destined to remain unsolved.C." The same idea apparently occurred to Burgess. and Burgess had his leg-stump uprooted while trying a gigantic pull-stroke. He was not quite sure whether he was glad or sorry at the respite. was not conscious of any particular nervousness. as he walked out of the pavilion to join Bob. "That man's keeping such a jolly good length that you don't know whether to stay in your ground or go out at them." "Bob's broken his egg. A howl of delight went up from the school. "It's a pity old Wyatt isn't here. which was repeated.

and whipped in quickly. It has nothing.Fitness. The Ripton slow bowler took a long run. Mid-on tried to look as if he had not spoken. The ball hit his right pad. a comfortable three. A queer little jump in the middle of the run increased the difficulty of watching him. by leading them to expect a faster ball than he actually sent down. to do with actual health. which in a batsman exhibits itself mainly in an increased power of seeing the ball.-b. The smiting he had received from Burgess in the previous over had not had the effect of knocking de Freece off his length. Joe would be in his element. Mike would not have said that he felt more than ordinarily well that day. or he may be in perfect training and play inside straight half-volleys. The next ball was of the same length. A single off the fifth ball of the over opened his score and brought him to the opposite end. Bob played ball number six back to the bowler. Mike prepared himself for the next ball with a glow of confidence. The umpire shook his head. and Mike took guard preparatory to facing de Freece. or very little. And Mike took after Joe. He had played on wickets of this pace at home against Saunders's bowling. that he was at the top of his batting form. Indeed. The two balls he had played at the other end had told him nothing. Bob played out the over with elaborate care. and hit it before it had time to break. Till then he had not thought the wicket was so fast. Mike jumped out. and stepped back. Mike had faced half-left. and not short enough to take liberties with. he was rather painfully conscious of having bolted his food at lunch. The Ripton bowler was as conscientious in the matter of appeals as a good bowler should be. It was a standing mystery with the sporting Press how Joe Jackson managed to collect fifties and sixties on wickets that completely upset men who were. watching the ball and pushing it through the slips as if there were no such thing as a tricky wicket. is one of the most inexplicable things connected with cricket. It pitched slightly to leg. They had been well pitched up. He felt that he knew where he was now. De Freece said nothing. "'S that?" shouted mid-on. The increased speed of the ball after it had touched the ground beat him. A man may come out of a sick-room with just that extra quickness in sighting the ball that makes all the difference. A difficult wicket always brought out his latent powers as a bat. in school matches. On days when the Olympians of the cricket world were bringing their averages down with ducks and singles. But something seemed to whisper to him. finer players. apparently. but this time off the off-stump.-w. In the early part of an innings he often trapped the batsmen in this way. The ball was too short to reach with comfort. as he settled himself to face the bowler. . It flew along the ground through the gap between cover and extra-cover. He knew what to do now. and he had smothered them. Mid-on has a habit of appealing for l. and Saunders had shown him the right way to cope with them. He had seen that the ball had pitched off the leg-stump. considering his pace.

The last ball of the over. And." Berridge was one of those who are skilled in cricket superstitions. and so. Mike watched Ashe shape with a sinking heart. It was a long-hop on the off. nor Grant. and the wicket was getting easier. or he's certain to get out. Henfrey. "Don't say that. as the umpire signalled another no-ball. At a hundred and four. A hundred and twenty-seven for seven against a total of a hundred and sixty-six gives the impression that the batting side has the advantage. which comes to all batsmen on occasion. when the wicket had put on exactly fifty. when he captained the Wrykyn teams. A bye brought Henfrey to the batting end again. Young Jackson looks as if he was in for a century. But Mike did not get out. and hit a fast change bowler who had been put on at the other end for a couple of fluky fours.Off the second ball of the other man's over Mike scored his first boundary. The wicket-keeper looked like a man who feels that his hour has come. he made a lot of runs. To-day he never looked like settling down. . but he felt set enough to stay at the wickets till nightfall." said Ellerby. There was nervousness written all over him. nor Devenish had any pretensions to be considered batsmen. (Two years later. Wrykyn had three more wickets to fall. He had had narrow escapes from de Freece. thence to ninety. the next man in. In the present case. that this was his day. a half-volley to leg. the score mounted to eighty. mainly by singles. Between them the three could not be relied on for a dozen in a decent match. Mike could see him licking his lips. "By George! I believe these chaps are going to knock off the runs. but he was uncertain.) But this season his batting had been spasmodic." said Berridge. He survived an over from de Freece. He took seven off de Freece's next over by means of two cuts and a drive." "You ass. Bob fell to a combination of de Freece and extra-cover. but he was full of that conviction. however. to a hundred. he lifted over the other boundary. and made twenty-one. He had stuck like a limpet for an hour and a quarter. led to his snicking an easy catch into short-slip's hands. and raised the score to a hundred and twenty-six. and de Freece's pet googly. He might possibly get out off his next ball. was a promising rather than an effective bat. Then Mike got the bowling for three consecutive overs. Mike watched him go with much the same feelings as those of a man who turns away from the platform after seeing a friend off on a long railway journey. Practically they had only one. He had made twenty-six. He could feel the sting going out of the bowling every over. Apparently. in the pavilion. "Sixty up. which had not been much in evidence hitherto. For himself he had no fear now. Ashe was the school wicket-keeper. He had an excellent style. Grant and Devenish were bowlers. for neither Ashe. His departure upset the scheme of things. with Bob still exhibiting a stolid and rock-like defence. He banged it behind point to the terrace-bank. it was Ripton who were really in the better position.

he stopped it. As it was. He came up to Mike and spoke with an earnestness born of nerves. It rolled in the direction of third man. The telegraph-board showed a hundred and fifty. Could he go up to him and explain that he. Jackson." said the umpire. and echoed by the Ripton fieldsmen. did not consider him competent to bat in this crisis? Would not this get about and be accounted to him for side? He had made forty. and it was possible to take liberties. Forty to win! A large order.. The last ball of the over he mishit.He was not kept long in suspense. Fortunately Grant solved the problem on his own account. His whole existence seemed to concentrate itself on those forty runs. But he did not score. with de Freece smiling pleasantly as he walked back to begin his run with the comfortable reflection that at last he had got somebody except Mike to bowl at. "Over. But each time luck was with him. I shall get outed first ball. Mike and the ball arrived at the opposite wicket almost simultaneously." he whispered. and he would have been run out. During those five balls Mike raised the score to a hundred and sixty. The wicket was almost true again now. The next over was doubly sensational. "For goodness sake. or we're done. But the sixth was of a different kind. but even so. It was not often that he was troubled by an inconvenient modesty. A distant clapping from the pavilion. "collar the bowling all you know. De Freece's first ball made a hideous wreck of his wicket. . "Come on. Mike felt that the school's one chance now lay in his keeping the bowling. The original medium-paced bowler had gone on again in place of the fast man. it all but got through Mike's defence.. Grant was a fellow he hardly knew. who was the last of several changes that had been tried at the other end. and for the first five balls he could not find his length. But how was he to do this? It suddenly occurred to him that it was a delicate position that he was in. The fast bowler." shouted Grant. and a school prefect to boot. but this happened now." "All right. and set his teeth. [Illustration: MIKE AND THE BALL ARRIVED ALMOST SIMULTANEOUSLY] The last balls of the next two overs provided repetitions of this performance. Another fraction of a second. and his bat was across the crease before the bails were off. taken up a moment later all round the ground. Faster than the rest and of a perfect length. The umpire called "Over!" and there was Grant at the batting end. announced that he had reached his fifty. was well-meaning but erratic. But it was going to be done." said Mike. Mike took them..

He bowled rippingly. and touched the off-stump. but nobody appeared to recognise this fact as important. Grant pursued the Fabian policy of keeping his bat almost immovable and trusting to luck. It was an awe-inspiring moment. but the Wrykyn total was one hundred and seventy-two. Brother of the other one. A great stillness was over all the ground. Mike's knees trembled." Politeness to a beaten foe caused Burgess to change his usual "not bad. and rolled back down the pitch. It seemed almost an anti-climax when a four to leg and two two's through the slips settled the thing. The school broke into one great howl of joy. The only person unmoved seemed to be de Freece. There were still seven runs between them and victory. The fifth curled round his bat." "That family! How many more of them are you going to have here?" "He's the last. but determined. * * * * * Devenish was caught and bowled in de Freece's next over. "Who was the man who made all the runs? How many. "that young Jackson was only playing as a sub. Mike had got the bowling." "You've got a rum idea of what's funny. Grant looked embarrassed. It was young Jackson. meeting Burgess in the pavilion. by the way?" "Eighty-three. CHAPTER XXIX WYATT AGAIN ." "The funny part of it is. A bail fell silently to the ground. His smile was even more amiable than usual as he began his run. For four balls he baffled the attack. though once nearly caught by point a yard from the wicket. I say." said Maclaine." continued he.That over was an experience Mike never forgot. The ball hit the very centre of Devenish's bat. Point and the slips crowded round." said Maclaine. and the bowling was not de Freece's. Devenish came in to take the last ball of the over. Mid-off and mid-on moved half-way down the pitch. * * * * * "Good game. Devenish's face was a delicate grey. The next moment the crisis was past. rough luck on de Freece.

" "I wish Mike would come and open it. Mike." "With a bushranger." said Mr. after both combatants had been cautioned by the referee. The rest. "Good old Wyatt! He's shot a man. "Buck up. "He gives no details. "Bush-ray. MacPherson was the vigorous and persevering gentleman. but was headed off. referred to in a previous chapter. bush-ray. The hour being nine-fifteen. had settled down to serious work." said Phyllis. Jackson was reading letters. whose finely chiselled features were gradually disappearing behind a mask of bread-and-milk. "Is there?" said Mike." added Phyllis. "He seems very satisfied with Mike's friend Wyatt." she shouted. conversationally. "Shall I go and hurry him up?" The missing member of the family entered as she spoke. "How do you know?" said Phyllis clinchingly. At the moment of writing Wyatt is apparently incapacitated owing to a bullet in the shoulder. I see it comes from Buenos Ayres. in a victory for Marjory. "Sorry I'm late." "Has he been fighting a duel?" asked Marjory. and the official time for breakfast nine o'clock." said Ella. Perhaps that letter on Mike's plate supplies them. The usual catch-as-catch-can contest between Marjory and Phyllis for the jam (referee and time-keeper. He's been wounded in a duel. Mike's place was still empty." began Gladys Maud. Jackson. bush-ray. "There's a letter from Wyatt. who kept a fatherly eye on the Buenos Ayres sheep." said Marjory. That young man seems to make things fairly lively wherever he is. Mr." He opened the letter and began to read. but expects to be fit again shortly. I don't wonder he found a public school too restricted a sphere for his energies. "Bush-ray." explained Gladys Maud. through the bread-and-milk." . "What does he say?" inquired Marjory. who had duly secured the stakes. Mrs. The Jacksons were breakfasting. including Gladys Maud. "Who was the duel with?" "How many bushrangers were there?" asked Phyllis. "There aren't any bushrangers in Buenos Ayres. "Bushrangers. Mike read on. interested.It was a morning in the middle of September. "I've had a letter from MacPherson. Jackson) had resulted.

I thought he was killed at first. What he was really doing was getting a steady aim at us with his revolver. and go through that way.. Missed the first shot. "What a dreadful thing!" said Mrs. The next item of the programme was a forward move in force on the part of the enemy. In the meantime he got me in the right shoulder. All the farms out here have their boundaries marked by wire fences. I thought he was simply tightening his horse's girths. Well. when I happened to catch sight of Chester's pistol. and loosed off. and his day's work was done. and I were dipping sheep close by. "Much better than being in a beastly bank. Hurt like sin afterwards. I say. After a bit we overtook him. "I told you it was a duel. the lodge-keeper's son dashed off in search of help.'" "By Jove!" said Mike. "What a terrible experience for the poor boy!" said Mrs. The fact is we've been having a bust-up here." said Mike. The old woman who keeps the lodge wouldn't have it at any price. Danvers says he's getting writer's cramp. I picked it up. so excuse bad writing.. That's the painful story. Here you are. So this rotter. The johnny had dismounted when we arrived. I emptied all the six chambers of my revolver. and tooled after him." said Marjory. "No. and I've come out of it with a bullet in the shoulder. First page is mostly about the Ripton match and so on.. so I shall have to stop. summing up. but it turned out it was only his leg. pulled out our revolvers. and dropped poor old Chester. a good chap who can't help being ugly. and missed him clean every time. A chap called Chester. he wanted to ride through our place." said Phyllis. which has crocked me for the time being. but got him with the second in the ankle at about two yards. JACKSON MAKES UP HIS MIND . "I'm glad he's having such a ripping time. 'I'm dictating this to a sportsman of the name of Danvers. Jackson. and so it was. It must be almost as decent as Wrykyn out there."Killed him?" asked Marjory excitedly.. An ass of a Gaucho had gone into the town and got jolly tight. and it is supposed to be a deadly sin to cut these. "Anyhow. so he came to us and told us what had happened. though it was only a sort of dull shock at the moment. Jackson. which had fallen just by where I came down. Only potted him in the leg. This is what he says. and it was any money on the Gaucho. and that's when the trouble began. proceeded to cut the fence. Gave him the absolute miss-in-baulk... it was practically a bushranger. The man had got his knife out now--why he didn't shoot again I don't know--and toddled over in our direction to finish us off. He fired as we came up. Chester was unconscious. I got going then. and coming back. an Old Wykehamist. instead of shifting off. We nipped on to a couple of horses. It happened like this. what's under that dish?" CHAPTER XXX MR.

fetching and carrying for Mike. She was fond of her other brothers. "What did it say?" "I didn't see--I only caught sight of the Wrykyn crest on the envelope." "He didn't mean it really. Jackson opened the envelope containing his school report and read the contents. jumping up as he entered." Mike seemed concerned. even for Joe. Mike. It's the first I've had from Appleby." "Last summer he said he'd take me away if I got another one. she would do it only as a favour." "No. who had played in all five Test Matches in the previous summer. If Mike had been in time for breakfast that morning he might have gathered from the expression on his father's face." Marjory was bustling about. I _know_ he didn't! He couldn't! You're the best bat Wrykyn's ever had." said Mike philosophically. Blake used to write when you were in his form. I say--" his eye wandered in mild surprise round the table. and did the thing thoroughly." she said. as Mr." said Marjory. Jackson had gone into the kitchen. "Your report came this morning. as usual. She had adopted him at an early age. as if these juvenile gambols distressed her. The kidneys failed to retain Mike's undivided attention. that looks rather rotten! I wonder if it was awfully bad. who had put her hair up a fortnight before. "here you are--I've been keeping everything hot for you. taking his correspondence with him. "Think there's any more tea in that pot?" "I call it a shame. Jackson had disappeared. "Hullo. "they ought to be jolly glad to have you at Wrykyn just for cricket." . while Marjory. Mr. though for the others. Father didn't say anything. Mrs. She would field out in the deep as a natural thing when Mike was batting at the net in the paddock. Phyllis and Ella finished their dispute and went out. the meal was nearly over. looked on in a detached sort of way. But he was late. "I say. When he came down on this particular morning." "It can't be any worse than the horrid ones Mr. He looked up interested. that's a comfort. Mike." "Have you? Thanks awfully. as she always did. "I'm a bit late. instead of writing beastly reports that make father angry and don't do any good to anybody. and when Mike appeared the thing had resolved itself into a mere vulgar brawl between Phyllis and Ella for the jam. especially when they made centuries in first-class cricket. that the document in question was not exactly a paean of praise from beginning to end." she said. Marjory sat on the table and watched Mike eat. but Mike was her favourite.Two years have elapsed and Mike is home again for the Easter holidays. Mike always was late for breakfast in the holidays.

Mike's end-of-term report was an unfailing wind-raiser. "If you don't be worried by being too anxious now that you're captain. Mike put on his pads and went to the wickets."What ho!" interpolated Mike. Mike's dealings with his father were as a rule of a most pleasant nature. "I hope the dickens it's nothing to do with that bally report." "I wish I wasn't. it's a beastly responsibility. while Marjory and the dogs retired as usual to the far hedge to retrieve. He liked the prospect. Phyllis met him." "Saunders is a jolly good chap. It is no light thing to captain a public school at cricket. was not returning next term. and Mike was to reign in his stead." Saunders was setting up the net when they arrived. Everybody says you are. At night sometimes he would lie awake. or making a hash of things by choosing the wrong men to play for the school and leaving the right men out. Saunders's bowling on a true wicket seemed simple to him. Why. and now he had the strength as well. Mr. He had always had the style. I wonder if he's out at the net now." he said. you got your first the very first term you were there--even Joe didn't do anything nearly so good as that. breezes were apt to ruffle the placid sea of good-fellowship. Saunders was a good sound bowler of the M. but it certainly carried with it a rather awe-inspiring responsibility. He had filled out in three years. "Oh. appalled by the fear of losing his form. Saunders says you're simply bound to play for England in another year or two. indeed. She was kept busy. minor match type. the Wrykyn cricket captain of the previous season. Mike. He bowled me a half-volley on the off the first ball I had in a school match. Jackson was an understanding sort of man. "you'll make a century every match next term. who looked on Mike as his own special invention. Blake's sarcastic _résumé_ of Mike's short-comings at the end of the .C. Let's go and see. He seems--" added Phyllis. and there had been a time when he had worried Mike considerably. From time to time. throwing in the information by way of a make-weight." "Where?" "He's in the study. father wants you. who treated his sons as companions. Saunders. Master Mike. on the arrival of Mr. "in a beastly wax. As he was walking towards the house." was his muttered exclamation. but already he was beginning to find his form. By the way." Henfrey. however. was delighted. but Mike had been in the Wrykyn team for three seasons now. "You _are_. and each season he had advanced tremendously in his batting." "What for?" "I don't know. It was early in the Easter holidays.C." Mike's jaw fell slightly. I've been hunting for you.

I say!" groaned the record-breaker. "'French bad." "'Mathematics bad. "'has been unsatisfactory in the extreme." "'Latin poor. It was with a certain amount of apprehension. Mike. Jackson in the habit of booting the basket. last term--all speeches and doubtful readings. Jackson." said Mr." Mike. "It is. Jackson was a man of his word. "'His conduct. Only in moments of emotion was Mr. "Come in. therefore. very poor. father?" said Mike. Jackson.'" "We were doing Thucydides. both in and out of school." "Here are Mr. Jackson in measured tones. It was on this occasion that Mr. which he declines to use in the smallest degree. conduct disgraceful----'" "Everybody rags in French.'" "Nobody does much work in Math.'" "It wasn't anything really. I only happened----" Remembering suddenly that what he had happened to do was to drop a cannon-ball (the school weight) on the form-room floor.'" quoted Mr." replied Mr. Jackson had solemnly declared his intention of removing Mike from Wrykyn unless the critics became more flattering. "I want to speak to you." said his father. Book Two. with a sort of sickly interest.'" Mike moaned a moan of righteous indignation. much as a dog about to be washed might evince in his tub. there had been something not unlike a typhoon. what is more. so I stepped out--may I bag the paper-knife for a jiffy? I'll just show----" "Never mind about cricket now. "I want you to listen to this report." "Oh. kicking the waste-paper basket. scented a row in the offing.previous term. which Mike broke by remarking that he had carted a half-volley from Saunders over the on-side hedge that morning. but on several occasions. and cruxes and things--beastly hard! Everybody says so. it is without exception the worst report you have ever had. . "It was just a bit short and off the leg stump." "Oh. Appleby's remarks: 'The boy has genuine ability. "your report. There followed an awkward silence. that Jackson entered the study. skilled in omens. not once. is that my report. he paused. and Mr. Greek. Inattentive and idle.

" was his next remark. having all the unbending tenacity of the normally easy-going man. there was a sinking feeling in his interior. "I am sending you to Sedleigh. his father. and for that reason he said very little now. He spoke drily to hide his sympathy. "You remember what I said to you about your report at Christmas. but as a master he always made it his habit to regard the manners and customs of the boys in his form with an unbiased eye. He made no attempt to appeal against the sentence. Appleby said as much in a clear firm hand. Jackson could read Mike's mind like a book." Somewhere in the world the sun was shining. or their Eight to Bisley. and to an unbiased eye Mike in a form-room was about as near the extreme edge as a boy could be. perhaps. "I shall abide by what I said. "It is not a large school. birds were twittering. pure and simple." he said blankly.' There is more to the same effect. somewhere in the world lambkins frisked and peasants sang blithely at their toil (flat. He understood him. but still blithely). folding the lethal document and replacing it in its envelope. Mr. and some of Mike's shots on the off gave him thrills of pure aesthetic joy. He knew it would be useless. Sedleigh! Mike sat up with a jerk. Jackson was sorry for Mike. Jackson." Barlitt was the vicar's son. He did not approve of it." Mike's heart thumped. Mike said nothing. What had Sedleigh ever done? What were they ever likely to do? Whom did they play? What Old Sedleighan had ever done anything at cricket? Perhaps they didn't even _play_ cricket! "But it's an awful hole. spectacled youth who did not enter . when he made up his mind. "and I don't suppose it could play Wrykyn at cricket. Appleby was a master with very definite ideas as to what constituted a public-school master's duties."'An abnormal proficiency at games has apparently destroyed all desire in him to realise the more serious issues of life. He knew Sedleigh by name--one of those schools with about a hundred fellows which you never hear of except when they send up their gymnasium pair to Aldershot. He understood cricket. and an icy wind blew over the face of the earth. Mike?" said Mr. Mike's point of view was plain to him. a silent. "You will not go back to Wrykyn next term." Mr. and Mr. The tragedy had happened. Mr." he said. As a man he was distinctly pro-Mike. but to Mike at that moment the sky was black. but he knew that in Mike's place and at Mike's age he would have felt the same. Young Barlitt won a Balliol scholarship from Sedleigh last year. Mike's outlook on life was that of a cricketer. but it has one merit--boys work there. and there was an end of it.

I'll send up your luggage by the 'bus. The nod Napoleon might have given if somebody had met him in 1812.very largely into Mike's world. sir." said Mike. And. which was a good deal better than saying what he would have liked to have said." added Mr. They had met occasionally at tennis-parties. sir. Barlitt speaks very highly of Sedleigh. pulled up again. The future seemed wholly gloomy. which had been stopping everywhere for the last half-hour. sir." said the porter. and hurled a Gladstone bag out on to the platform in an emphatic and vindictive manner. "Mr. perceiving from Mike's _distrait_ air that the boy was a stranger to the place. Also the boots he wore. Barlitt's mind was massive. A sombre nod. and the colour of his hair. and Mike. or one more obviously incompetent than the man who had attached himself with a firm grasp to the handle of the bag as he strode off in the direction of the luggage-van. George!" "I'll walk. eh?" Mike was feeling thoroughly jaundiced. that he had never seen a more repulsive porter. but not much conversation had ensued. "For the school. He walked off up the road. for instance. and said. as if he hoped by sheer energy to deceive the traveller into thinking that Sedleigh station was staffed by a great army of porters. It's waiting here. It's straight on up this road to the school. seeing the name of the station. You can't miss it." "Right. Then he got out himself and looked about him. thanks. but his topics of conversation were not Mike's. It was such . "It's a goodish step. bustling up. sir. "So you're back from Moscow." said Mike frigidly. Hi." "Here you are. He thought. his appearance. Jackson. "goes up in the 'bus mostly." "Worse luck. and the man who took his ticket. He disliked his voice. opened the door. sir. so far from attempting to make the best of things. sir?" inquired the solitary porter. CHAPTER XXXI SEDLEIGH The train. Mike nodded. Which 'ouse was it you was going to?" "Outwood's. he had set himself deliberately to look on the dark side. Mike said nothing. sir. sorrier for himself than ever. "Young gents at the school. sir. He hated the station." "Thank you. got up.

"Jackson?" he said mildly. Which was the bitter part of it. instead of being on his way to a place where they probably ran a diabolo team instead of a cricket eleven. At Wrykyn he had always charged in at the beginning of term at the boys' entrance. In appearance he reminded Mike of Smee in "Peter Pan. He had handed it on in a letter to Strachan. And it had been such a wretched athletic year for the school. at that. and was shown into a room lined with books. Strachan was a good. And as captain of cricket. Mike's heart bled for Wrykyn.absolutely rotten luck. For three miles Mike made his way through woods and past fields. now that he was no longer there. Now it might never be used. Burgess. free bat on his day. It was soon after this that he caught sight. Sheen's victory in the light-weights at Aldershot had been their one success. Outwood's was the middle one of these." . and had lost both the Ripton matches. and played hunt-the-slipper in winter. if he survived a few overs. and Henfrey had always been sportsmen to him. and the three captains under whom he had played during his career as a Wrykynian. For the last two seasons he had been the star man. from the top of a hill. and a baker's boy directed him to Mr. Outwood's. the captain of cricket was removed during the Easter holidays. "Yes. but almost as good. sir. and. And now. on top of all this. might make a century in an hour. separated from the school buildings by a cricket-field. too. Of a different type from the Wrykyn country. There were three houses in a row. but probably Strachan would have some scheme of his own. There was no doubt that Mike's sudden withdrawal meant that Wrykyn would have a bad time that season. He had meant to do such a lot for Wrykyn cricket this term. and he found himself loathing Sedleigh and all its works with a great loathing. who would be captain in his place. and there is nobody who has not a theory of his own about cricket-coaching at school. Outwood. But it was not the same thing. Once he crossed a river. Outwood. going in first. There was something pleasant and homely about Mr. Presently the door opened. he would be on the point of arriving at Wrykyn. of a group of buildings that wore an unmistakably school-like look. Enderby. This must be Sedleigh. Mike went to the front door. The football fifteen had been hopeless." He had the same eyebrows and pince-nez and the same motherly look. would be weak this year. About now. Ten minutes' walk brought him to the school gates. He had never been in command. the return by over sixty points. but he was not to be depended upon. Wrykyn. He had had an entirely new system of coaching in his mind. but this formal reporting of himself at Sedleigh suited his mood. There is nobody who could not edit a paper in the ideal way. The only thing he could find in its favour was the fact that it was set in a very pretty country. He inquired for Mr. and heading the averages easily at the end of the season. and the house-master appeared. and knocked.

with a solemn face and immaculate clothes."I am very glad to see you. Good-bye for the present. In many respects it is unique. Perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey. A deeply interesting relic of the sixteenth century. I understand. With the help of this aid to vision he inspected Mike in silence for a while. What's yours?" . said he had not. Jackson. My name. It was a little hard. produced an eyeglass attached to a cord. Quite so. Personally. I don't see any prospect of ever sitting down in this place. sir?" "What? Yes. "Hullo. You come from Crofton. A Nursery Garden in the Home. I think you might like a cup of tea. he spoke." he added pensively. was leaning against the mantelpiece. That sort of idea. his gloom visibly deepened." Mike wandered across to the other side of the house. "Hullo. "is Smith. It will well repay a visit. And perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey? No? Quite so. near Brindleford? It is a part of the country which I have always wished to visit. that's to say. All alone in a strange school. Oh. in Shropshire. and fixed it in his right eye. As Mike entered. with chamfered plinth." said the immaculate one. finding his bearings. good-bye. and finally came to a room which he took to be the equivalent of the senior day-room at a Wrykyn house. The northern altar is in a state of really wonderful preservation. He strayed about. You should make a point of visiting the remains of the Cluniac Priory in the summer holidays. with a house-master who offered one cups of tea after one's journey and talked about chamfered plinths and apses. I am preparing a book on Ruined Abbeys and Priories of England. Evidently he had come by an earlier train than was usual. standing quite free from the apse wall. having flicked an invisible speck of dust from the left sleeve of his coat. A very long. Bishop Geoffrey. Jackson. "If you don't mind dirtying your bags. You will find the matron in her room. Everywhere else he had found nothing but emptiness. "Dear me! You have missed an opportunity which I should have been glad to have. "Take a seat. very glad indeed. He spoke in a tired voice." he said. Ambrose. 1133-40----" "Shall I go across to the boys' part. I daresay you have frequently seen the Cluniac Priory of St. Jackson. where they probably played hopscotch. then. It consists of a solid block of masonry five feet long and two and a half wide. Quite so. thin youth. he fumbled in his top left waistcoat pocket. Ambrose at Brindleford?" Mike. who would not have recognised a Cluniac Priory if you had handed him one on a tray. and it has always been my wish to see the Cluniac Priory of St." said Mike. But this room was occupied. It looks to me as if they meant to use these chairs as mustard-and-cress beds. yes.

When I was but a babe. there's just one thing. before I start. then?" "Yes! Why. too. the Pride of the School. I was superannuated last term." "The boy--what will he become? Are you new here. . But what Eton loses. and I don't care for Smythe. and I will tell you the painful story of my life. so I don't know. Sedleigh gains. At an early age. as I was buying a simple penn'orth of butterscotch out of the automatic machine at Paddington. "My infancy." he resumed. See? There are too many Smiths. Psmith thanked him with a certain stately old-world courtesy." said Mike. "but I've only just arrived. But." said Psmith solemnly. It seems that a certain scug in the next village to ours happened last year to collar a Balliol----" "Not Barlitt!" exclaimed Mike. would you mind sticking a P at the beginning of my name? P-s-m-i-t-h. My father's content to worry along in the old-fashioned way. are you new?" "Do I look as if I belonged here? I'm the latest import. everybody predicting a bright career for me. See?" Mike said he saw." "No?" said Mike. If you ever have occasion to write to me. I jotted it down on the back of an envelope. my eldest sister was bribed with a shilling an hour by my nurse to keep an rye on me. yes. I was sent to Eton. fixing an owl-like gaze on Mike through the eye-glass. "No. Cp. At the end of the first day she struck for one-and six. Sit down on yonder settee. the name Zbysco." "Bad luck. but I've decided to strike out a fresh line. in which the Z is given a similar miss-in-baulk. "Let us start at the beginning. The resolve came to me unexpectedly this morning. I shall found a new dynasty. We now pass to my boyhood. for choice." "For Eton. By the way. of all places?" "This is the most painful part of my narrative. the P not being sounded. "it was not to be. or the Boy who is Led Astray and takes to Drink in Chapter Sixteen?" "The last." "But why Sedleigh. and see that I did not raise Cain. and got it. "Are you the Bully. In conversation you may address me as Rupert (though I hope you won't). or simply Smith.CHAPTER XXXII PSMITH "Jackson." said Mike.

we fall. Divided. The vicar told the curate." "My reports from Eton were simply scurrilous." said Psmith. "Where were you before you came here?" asked Psmith. It's a great scheme. if you belong to the Archaeological Society you get off cricket."That was the man. How do you like this place from what you've seen of it?" "Rotten. Jawed about apses and things. who sent me off here to get a Balliol too. The son of the vicar. You ought to be one. laddie. Have you seen Professor Radium yet? I should say Mr. Now tell me yours. and so on. We are companions in misfortune." "Wrykyn. who told our vicar. Comrade Jackson. Outwood. mark you. and start by collaring all you can and sitting on it. Lost lambs. I've been making inquiries of a stout sportsman in a sort of Salvation Army uniform. And. will you?" Mike felt as Robinson Crusoe felt when he met Friday. You work for the equal distribution of property. Bit off his nut. We are practically long-lost brothers. A noble game. quite a solid man--and I hear that Comrade Outwood's an archaeological cove. You won't mind my calling you Comrade." "Do you come from Crofton?" "Yes. There's a libel action in every sentence. run by him. We must stick together. will you? I've just become a Socialist. Goes about the country beating up old ruins and fossils and things. "You have heard my painful story. but a bit too thick for me. The very sound of the name Lower Benford was heartening. dusting his right trouser-leg. His dislike for his new school was not diminished. Sheep that have gone astray. Here was a fellow human being in this desert place. There's an Archaeological Society in the school." "I've lived at Lower Benford all my life." "I am with you. and is allowed to break bounds and generally steep itself to the eyebrows in reckless devilry. Cheer a little. but now he felt that life there might at least be tolerable." said Psmith. prowling about. "was the dream of my youth and the aspiration of my riper years. I suppose you are a blood at the game? Play for the school against Loamshire. My pater took me away because I got such a lot of bad reports. It goes out on half-holidays. What do you think of him?" "He doesn't seem a bad sort of chap." "And thereby. It was because his son got a Balliol that I was sent here." . At Eton I used to have to field out at the nets till the soles of my boots wore through. together we may worry through. "hangs a tale. who told my father. who told our curate. To get off cricket. Do _you_ know Barlitt?" "His pater's vicar of our village. whom I met in the grounds--he's the school sergeant or something. He could almost have embraced Psmith.

and straightening his tie. Above all. He had made up his mind on this point in the train. hand in hand. called Wyatt. hung on a nail. was one way of treating the situation. and a looking-glass. A chap at Wrykyn. We must stake out our claims." he said. Psmith opened the first of these. The determination not to play cricket for Sedleigh as he could not play for Wrykyn gave Mike a sort of pleasure." "You aren't going to collar it!" "That. as it were. used to break out at night and shoot at cats with an air-pistol. We'll nose about for a gun at the earliest opp. This is practical Socialism. With tact we ought to be able to slip away from the merry throng of fossil-chasers. Psmith approved the resolve. I shouldn't think he was one of the lynx-eyed contingent." said Psmith approvingly. and get our names shoved down for the Society. and one not without its meed of comfort. You and I. Meanwhile we'd better go up to Comrade Outwood. There is a certain fascination about making the very worst of a bad job. "We will. We will snare the elusive fossil together." "Not now." "It would take a lot to make me do that. To stand by with folded arms and a sombre frown." said Psmith." "But the real owner's bound to turn up some time or other. at any rate. I am all against anything that interferes with my sleep. and do a bit on our own account. We shall thus improve our minds. "Stout fellow. I shouldn't wonder if one mightn't borrow a gun from some friendly native. But rabbits in the daytime is a scheme. will search the countryside for ruined abbeys. Let's go and look. "is the exact programme. and do a bit of rabbit-shooting here and there."I'm not going to play here. On the first floor there was a passage with doors on either side. Achilles knew his business when he sat in his tent." "Good idea. we will go out of bounds. two empty bookcases. "I suppose it belongs to some rotter. "This'll do us well. "Might have been made for us. I suppose they have studies here." he said." They went upstairs." "I vote we get some tea first somewhere. It was a biggish room. looking at himself earnestly in the mirror. "'Tis well. From what I saw of Comrade Outwood during our brief interview." . There were a couple of deal tables." said Mike." "Then let's beat up a study. looking out over the school grounds." said Mike. and have a jolly good time as well.

was rather a critic than an executant. I have a presentiment that he will be an insignificant-looking little weed. if you want to be really useful." "These school reports. "Dash the door!" "Hackenschmidt!" said Mike. Remind me later to go on with my remarks on school reports. What's this." "We shall jolly well make it out of the window. "You couldn't make a long arm." said Psmith sympathetically." CHAPTER XXXIII STAKING OUT A CLAIM Psmith. sits down. That putrid calendar must come down. and turn the key? We had better give this merchant audience. though the idea was Psmith's. evidently without a suspicion that there would be any resistance. A rattling at the handle followed. I had several bright things to say on the subject. If you leave a study door unlocked in these strenuous times." said Psmith. Many a bright young lad has been soured by them. It's got an Etna and various things in it. somebody comes right in. There are moments when one wants to be alone. What would you give to be at Eton now? I'd give something to be at Wrykyn. It is imperative that we have a place to retire to after a fatiguing day. as he watched Mike light the Etna. and begins to talk about himself. How are you getting on with the evening meal?" "Just ready." ."His misfortune. We make progress. Do you think you could make a long arm. come and help me fetch up my box from downstairs. "if a sort of young Hackenschmidt turns up and claims the study. Similarly. not ours. spooning up tea from a paper bag with a postcard. could you. but it was Mike who wrenched it from its place. What are you going to do about it?" "Don't let us worry about it. It was he who suggested that the wooden bar which ran across the window was unnecessary." A heavy body had plunged against the door." said Psmith. in the matter of decorating a study and preparing tea in it. and haul it off the parent tin-tack? Thanks. "The weed. "Privacy. "are the very dickens." said Mike. though. "is what we chiefly need in this age of publicity. I think with a little care we ought to be able to make this room quite decently comfortable. and a voice outside said. You can't expect two master-minds like us to pig it in that room downstairs. but he preferred to allow Mike to carry them out. And now. the first thing you know is. I wonder. it was Mike who abstracted the key from the door of the next study. He was full of ideas. We make progress. Hullo.

"to restore our tissues after our journey. and this is my study. stay!' Your sisters----" "I want to know what----" "Your sisters froze on to your knees like little octopuses (or octopi). that's what I call it. 'Edwin. "What are you going to do about it?" he asked. you find strange faces in the familiar room." said he. and flung it open. "you stayed on till the later train." said Psmith. Comrade Spiller. "In this life. Your father held your hand and said huskily. put up his eyeglass." "But we do. Homely in appearance. deeply affected by his recital. We keep open house. and screamed. freckled boy. Edwin!' And so. all might have been well. If you had torn yourself from the bosom of the Spiller family by an earlier train. A stout fellow. and. "Well. it's beastly cheek." Psmith leaned against the mantelpiece. "It's beastly cheek. Psmith rose courteously from his chair. But no. perhaps. I am Psmith. Are you new chaps?" "The very latest thing. a people that know not Spiller. Framed in the entrance was a smallish. 'Don't go. "You can't go about the place bagging studies. practical order. "the saddest are these: 'It might have been." inquired the newcomer. Let me introduce you to Comrade Jackson. but one of us. and said." he repeated. "Of all sad words of tongue or pen. It is unusual for people to go about the place . "are you doing here?" [Illustration: "WHAT THE DICKENS ARE YOU DOING HERE?"] "We were having a little tea. on arrival." said Psmith." said Psmith. He went straight to the root of the matter. "It's beastly cheek. 'Edwin. We must distinguish between the unusual and the impossible. don't leave us!' Your mother clung to you weeping.' Too late! That is the bitter cry. Your own name will doubtless come up in the course of general chit-chat over the tea-cups.Mike unlocked the door. Spiller's sad case had moved him greatly. we Psmiths. and moved forward with slow stateliness to do the honours. The victim of Fate seemed in no way consoled." "My name's Spiller." Mike's outlook on life was of the solid. Spiller evaded the question. Come in and join us. wearing a bowler hat and carrying a bag. and harangued Spiller in a philosophical vein. On his face was an expression of mingled wrath and astonishment. "What the dickens." said Psmith. and cheered himself with a sip of tea." Psmith went to the table. we must be prepared for every emergency.

I said to him: 'What would happen if you trod on that pedal thing instead of that other pedal thing?' He said.bagging studies. and Jackson. If you had only realised the possibility of somebody some day collaring your study. sir. By no means a scaly project. it's my study. we know. so. The advice I give to every young man starting life is: 'Never confuse the unusual and the impossible. you might have thought out dozens of sound schemes for dealing with the matter. Spiller pink and determined. 'I wouldn't. Spiller." "Look here. We may as well all go together." he said. Outwood received them with the motherly warmth which was evidently the leading characteristic of his normal manner.' So he stamped on the accelerator. The cry goes round: 'Spiller has been taken unawares. and gazed at the object of the tribute in a surprised way.' he said." "Not an unsound scheme." "Spiller's. He hummed lightly as he walked. ." Mr.'" "Can't I! I'll----" "What _are_ you going to do about it?" said Mike. and I'm next on the house list. the Man of Action? How do you intend to set about it? Force is useless. Error! Ah. 'Now we'll let her rip. so you have rashly ordered your life on the assumption that it is impossible. and Simpson's left. Mr. His nature expands before one like some beautiful flower. I tell you what it----" "I was in a motor with a man once. "And Smith. I was saying to Comrade Jackson before you came in. Only it turned out to be the foot-brake after all. "are you going to take? Spiller." "But what steps.' Take the present case. you are unprepared. The thing comes on you as a surprise. laying a hand patronisingly on the study-claimer's shoulder--a proceeding violently resented by Spiller--"is a character one cannot help but respect. 'I couldn't. the man of Logic. Psmith particularly debonair. "All I know is. And you _are_ an insignificant-looking little weed. Mike sullen. and the other's the accelerator. Spiller.' 'But suppose you did?' I said. Outwood received this eulogy with rather a startled expression. that I didn't mind betting you were an insignificant-looking little weed." The trio made their way to the Presence. Comrade Jackson and myself were about to interview him upon another point." said Psmith. I'm going to have it. and we stopped dead. I am glad to see that you have already made friends." said Psmith. Spiller. and now and then pointed out to Spiller objects of interest by the wayside. It was Simpson's last term. He cannot cope with the situation." "We'll see what Outwood says about it. let this be a lesson to you. But what of Spiller. "Ah. As it is. of course. and skidded into a ditch. One's the foot-brake.

sir--" said Spiller." "Please. sir. "I like to see boys in my house friendly towards one another." "Jackson. appeared to be the main interest in their lives. Smith. A grand pursuit." he said. "I am delighted. This enthusiasm is most capital. I am very pleased. never had any difficulty in finding support. Mr. though small. sir--" said Spiller. "I understand. Most delighted. not at all. Is there anything----" "Please. Outwood pondered wistfully on this at times. It was a disappointment to him that so few boys seemed to wish to belong to his chosen band. "that accounts for it. "His heart is the heart of a little child. We intend to inspect the Roman Camp at Embury Hill. sir. too!" Mr. This is capital. who presided over the School Fire Brigade. not knowing that the Fire Brigade owed its support to the fact that it provided its light-hearted members with perfectly unparalleled opportunities for ragging." "Oh. "I have been unable to induce to join. very pleased indeed. Cricket and football. Outwood beamed. sir." Mr. were in the main earnest." said Psmith. quite so." he said at last. Archaeology fascinates me. games that left him cold. I--er--in a measure look after it. sir--" began Spiller. Spiller. "Yes. "One moment. sir." "Please." "Spiller. Spiller. Boys came readily at his call. Perhaps you would care to become a member?" "Please." said Psmith sadly." ."Er--quite so. Smith. sir. he is one of our oldest members. "One moment. two miles from the school." "Not at all. if you were not too busy. sir. "that there is an Archaeological Society in the school." burst out this paragon of all the virtues. Do you want to join." "Ah. "I----" "But it was not entirely with regard to Spiller that I wished to speak to you. Smith?" "Intensely. We have a small Archaeological Society. It was but rarely that he could induce new boys to join. Smith." pursued Psmith earnestly." "There is no vice in Spiller. tolerantly." "And Jackson's. We shall have the first outing of the term on Saturday. while his own band." said Psmith." "Undoubtedly. Smith. sir. His colleague. Mr. "Yes. Outwood's eyes sparkled behind their pince-nez. Downing. I will put down your name at once.

I come next after Simpson. of course." "Thank you very much." he said. sir. sir." said Psmith. Outwood. sir. sir--" said Spiller. Smith. It would give us a place where we could work quietly in the evenings. sir----" Psmith eyed the speaker pityingly. An excellent arrangement. "aren't I to have it? I'm next on the list. sir. "is very. A very good idea." CHAPTER XXXIV GUERRILLA WARFARE ." "Capital!" "Please. There is no formality between ourselves and Spiller. Then you will be with us on Saturday?" "On Saturday." "Thank you very much. very trying for a man of culture." "All this sort of thing. Can't I have it?" "I'm afraid I have already promised it to Smith. as they closed the door. "One moment. You should have spoken before. "is your besetting fault. sir. He would always find a cheery welcome waiting there for him. Correct it." "Quite so. Spiller. sir." "Certainly. Spiller. sir. Look us up in our study one of these afternoons. "There is just one other matter. What is that?" "Would there be any objection to Jackson and myself taking Simpson's old study?" "By all means. We will move our things in. Edwin. Smith. "We should." "Quite so. always be glad to see Spiller in our study. if you could spare the time. "Please. Spiller." shouted Spiller." He turned to Mr." "But. sir. sir." said Psmith. Spiller. Fight against it. "This tendency to delay. I like this spirit of comradeship in my house." said Mike. Quite so." "Yes."We shall be there. Smith.

I mean. Here we are in a stronghold. "He thinks of everything! You're the man. as he resumed his favourite position against the mantelpiece and surveyed the commandeered study with the pride of a householder. I take it that he will collect a gang and make an offensive movement against us directly he can. I don't like rows." "We'd better nip down to the matron right off. but I'm prepared to take on a reasonable number of bravoes in defence of the home." said Psmith courteously. Spiller's hot Spanish blood is not going to sit tight and do nothing under a blow like this. and this time there followed a knocking. Smith. with your permission." said Psmith." As they got up." "_And_. "We ought to have known each other before." "What would you have done if somebody had bagged your study?" "Made it jolly hot for them!" "So will Comrade Spiller." Mike was finishing his tea. we're all right while we stick here. as you rightly remark. though. there is nothing he can deny us."There are few pleasures. I suppose you realise that we are now to a certain extent up against it." "The loss was mine." he said." "That's just what I was about to point out when you put it with such admirable clearness." he said with approval. "about when we leave this room. It all depends on how big Comrade Spiller's gang will be." "And jam a chair against it. jam a chair against it. "The difficulty is." Psmith eyed Mike with approval. We are as sons to him. To all appearances we are in a fairly tight place. but we can't stay all night. "We will now. I say." Mike intimated that he was with him on the point. "keener to the reflective mind than sitting under one's own roof-tree. he would not have appreciated it properly. . to conduct an affair of this kind--such foresight! such resource! We must see to this at once." "What can he do? Outwood's given us the study. But what of the nightfall? What of the time when we retire to our dormitory?" "Or dormitories. but we must rout him out once more. This place would have been wasted on Spiller. I'm afraid we are quite spoiling his afternoon by these interruptions. they can only get at us through the door. Comrade Jackson. if they put us in different rooms we're done--we shall be destroyed singly in the watches of the night. face the future for awhile. if we're in separate rooms we shall be in the cart." "Not the matron--Comrade Outwood is the man. "You're a jolly useful chap to have by you in a crisis. the door handle rattled again. and we can lock that.

" said Psmith. "Are you the chap with the eyeglass who jaws all the time?" "I _do_ wear an eyeglass." he explained. in his practical way. "as to the rest of the description----" "My name's Jellicoe. "you will catch the light and shade effects on Jackson's face better. "Let us parley with the man. "He might get about half a dozen. not more." The new-comer giggled with renewed vigour." said Mike." giggled Jellicoe. "He's going to get the chaps to turn you out. say. and stood giggling with his hands in his pockets. "I just came up to have a look at you." said Psmith approvingly. only it belongs to three ." "We shall be able to tackle a crowd like that." "There's nothing like a common thought for binding people together." sighed Psmith. join the glad throng?" "Me? No fear! I think Spiller's an ass. about four beds in it? How many dormitories are there?" "Five--there's one with three beds in it." "This is where Comrade Jellicoe's knowledge of the local geography will come in useful. because most of the chaps don't see why they should sweat themselves just because Spiller's study has been bagged." "How many _will_ there be. with." "As I suspected. You _are_ chaps! Do you mean to say you simply bagged his study? He's making no end of a row about it." said Psmith." "Mine is Psmith--P-s-m-i-t-h--one of the Shropshire Psmiths. then?" asked Mike." "Spiller's fiery nature is a byword. "What's he going to do?" asked Mike. rather vacant face and a receding chin strolled into the room. The object on the skyline is Comrade Jackson." "Old Spiller. "If you move a little to the left. A light-haired youth with a cheerful. _I_ think Spiller's an ass." Mike unlocked the door." "Sturdy common sense." said Psmith. "seems to be the chief virtue of the Sedleigh character. "The only thing is we must get into the same dormitory. "About how many horny-handed assistants should you say that he would be likely to bring? Will you. Do you happen to know of any snug little room. "is cursing you like anything downstairs. as one mourning over the frailty of human nature. for instance."This must be an emissary of Comrade Spiller's." said Psmith.

chaps. Smith?" he said. "we may say that we are in a fairly winning position. Smith. and some other chaps." Mr." "Spiller?" "Spiller and Robinson and Stone. "We must apologise for disturbing you. Comrade Spiller. Things. "are beginning to move. Better leave the door open." he said. A vote of thanks to Comrade Jellicoe for his valuable assistance." "We were wondering. Outwood received them even more beamingly than before. A very warm friendship--" explained Psmith." said Psmith. sir." This time it was a small boy." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe. it will save trouble. not at all! I like the boys in my house to come to me when they wish for my advice or help. sir----" "Not at all. We will go to Comrade Outwood and stake out another claim. come in. Psmith looked at him searchingly through his eyeglass. the others waited outside. I like to see it--I like to see it." "I believe in the equal distribution of property. as they returned to the study. crowding ." "They want us to speak to them?" "They told me to come up and tell you to come down. I think. as the messenger departed. "Who?" "The senior day-room chaps. but shall be delighted to see him up here. Jellicoe and myself." "And we can have the room. patting the gurgling Jellicoe kindly on the shoulder. "Yes. "That door. "has sprung up between Jackson." "You make friends easily. Smith." he said. Ah." "Go and give Comrade Spiller our compliments and say that we can't come down. The handle began to revolve again." said Psmith." "And now. sir?" "Certainly--certainly! Tell the matron as you go down. "is getting a perfect incubus! It cuts into one's leisure cruelly. "They told me to come up and tell you to come down. if you would have any objection to Jackson. what can we do for you?" Spiller advanced into the study. Jellicoe and myself sharing the dormitory with the three beds in it.

"Robinson. He grabbed Spiller by the shoulders and ran him back against the advancing crowd. if you don't. grip the invader scientifically by an arm and a leg. "We must act. "The preliminaries may now be considered over. Mike jumped to help. always. Jellicoe giggled in the background. "A neat piece of work. the enemy gave back. Whisperings could be heard in the corridor. As Mike arrived. but Mike had been watching. There was an inward rush on the enemy's part. Outwood's kindly thought in giving us the room? You suggest a black and ungrateful action. was it? Well. "Who was our guest?" he asked. we are always glad to see Comrade Robinson. but it was needless. Psmith closed the window gently and turned to Jellicoe." A heavy body crashed against the door. Comrade Jackson! Might I trouble you just to turn that key quietly. Comrade Spiller. and the handle. however." There was a scrambling of feet in the passage outside. swung open. "They'll have it down. The dogs of war are now loose. you _are_ a chap!" "Robinson. the door." said Spiller. This the doorway. "Come on. "Look here." cried Spiller suddenly. and then to stand by for the next attack." "We'll risk it. the first shot has been fired. with a display of energy of which one would not have believed him capable. Mike. instead of resisting. I wonder if anybody else is thinking of calling?" Apparently frontal attack had been abandoned." said Jellicoe. adjusting his tie at the looking-glass. then the weight and impetus of Mike and Spiller prevailed. turning after re-locking the door. and Mike. "are you going to clear out of here or not?" "After Mr. the captive was already on the window-sill. His was a simple and appreciative mind. and the human battering-ram staggered through into the study. dusting the knees of his trousers where they had pressed against the wall. stepping into the room again." said Psmith approvingly. the drama in the atmosphere appealed to him. Psmith dropped him on to the flower-bed below." "You'll get it hot. slammed the door and locked it. . and then a repetition of the onslaught on the door. I say. For a moment the doorway was blocked. you chaps." said Mike. was just in time to see Psmith.

I think we may take it as tolerably certain that Comrade Spiller and his hired ruffians will try to corner us in the dormitory to-night. I shouldn't think." said Jellicoe." "This. you know. and have it out?" said Mike. and if we are going to do the Hunted Fawn business all the time. but then we should have all the trouble over again to-morrow and the day after that. It read: "Directly this is over. Everybody turned to look at them as they came in. We are not prepared to carry on a long campaign--the thing must be settled at once." Mike followed the advice. It was plain that the study episode had been a topic of conversation." The passage was empty when they opened the door." said Mike. we could fake up some sort of barricade for the door." "Shall we go down to the senior day-room. of course. "is exciting. "Tea." A bell rang in the distance. "we shall have to go now. they were first out of the room." said Psmith. the call to food was evidently a thing not to be treated lightly by the enemy.Somebody hammered on the door. "You'd better come out. Personally I don't propose to be chivvied about indefinitely like this. "They were going to try and get you into the senior day-room and scrag you there. and Robinson's coat-sleeve still bore traces of garden mould. leaning against the mantelpiece. nip upstairs as quickly as you can. we will play the fixture on our own ground. When they had been in the study a few moments. so I propose that we let them come into the dormitory. "We needn't drag Jellicoe into it." he said. "Lucky you two cut away so quick. but Psmith was in his element. Is this meeting with me?" "I think that's sound. "No. life in the true sense of the word will become an impossibility. Towards the end of the meal Psmith scribbled a note and passed it to Mike." said Mike." "Leave us. Spiller. Jellicoe knocked at the door. Spiller's face was crimson. We have got for our sins to be in this place for a whole term. Mike felt rather conscious of the eyes. we would be alone." "As a matter of fact--if you don't mind--" began that man of peace. In the dining-room the beleaguered garrison were the object of general attention. you'll only get it hotter if you don't. and see what happens. "There's no harm in going out. "Yes?" called Psmith patiently. ." "They won't do anything till after tea. His demeanour throughout the meal was that of some whimsical monarch condescending for a freak to revel with his humble subjects. Well. My nerves are so delicately attuned that the strain would simply reduce them to hash. but it can't go on.

." "Who is Barnes?" "Head of the house--a rotter. "only he won't. Is there nobody else who might interfere with our gambols?" "Barnes might. Outwood paid his visit at eleven. it was unlikely that it would occur before half-past eleven." "Comrade Jackson's Berserk blood is up--I can hear it sizzling. Outwood went the round of the dormitories at eleven. as there won't be anything doing till bedtime. "we may look forward to a very pleasant evening. I quite agree these things are all very disturbing and painful. must this business be conducted in a subdued and _sotto voce_ manner. deposed that Spiller. or may we let ourselves go a bit here and there?" "I shouldn't think old Outwood's likely to hear you--he sleeps miles away on the other side of the house. beaming vaguely into the darkness over a candle. The rest of the opposing forces were distributed among other and more distant rooms. _ne pas_." said Mike." This appears to be a thoroughly nice. Comrade Jellicoe must stand out of the game altogether." CHAPTER XXXV UNPLEASANTNESS IN THE SMALL HOURS Jellicoe. but otherwise. he has got to spend the term in the senior day-room. And now. We often rag half the night and nothing happens. that Dormitory One would be the rendezvous. that human encyclopaedia. well-conducted establishment." said Jellicoe. We shall be glad of his moral support. but it's as well to do them thoroughly when one's once in for them. "we don't want anybody butting in and stopping the show before it's half started. As to the time when an attack might be expected. would make for Dormitory One in the same passage." said Psmith. It was probable. What would my mother say if she could see her Rupert in the midst of these reckless youths!" "All the better. consulted on the probable movements of the enemy. retiring at ten. as predicted by Jellicoe. closing the door." said Psmith placidly. they rag him."Quite right. whereas we have our little wooden _châlet_ to retire to in times of stress. "And touching. He's in a funk of Stone and Robinson. I think I'll collar this table and write home and tell my people that all is well with their Rupert. therefore. "this is not Comrade Jellicoe's scene at all. He never hears anything. where Robinson also had a bed. he'll simply sit tight. Mr. "the matter of noise." said Psmith." "Then I think. Shall we be moving?" Mr. and disappeared again.

"These humane preparations being concluded. silence is essential. succeeded by a series of deep breaths. "Dashed neat!" he said. I'll collar Comrade Jellicoe's jug now and keep it handy." "If they've got a candle----" "They won't have. they may wait at the top of the steps. Waiting in the dark for something to happen is always a trying experience. Subject to your approval. Comrade Jackson. the faintest rustle from Psmith's direction followed. Mike found his thoughts wandering back to the vigil he had kept with Mr. fling the water at a venture--fire into the brown! Lest we forget. listening. I always ask myself on these occasions. as on this occasion. Comrade Jellicoe. . If it's shut we shall hear them at it when they come. and a slight giggle. Wain at Wrykyn on the night when Wyatt had come in through the window and found authority sitting on his bed." said Mike. "we will retire to our posts and wait. don't forget to breathe like an asthmatic sheep when you hear the door opened. the man with the big brain!" The floor of the dormitory was below the level of the door. Psmith surveyed the result with approval. Napoleon would have done that. Psmith lit a candle and they examined the ground. waiting for him. If they have no candle. "Practically the sunken road which dished the Cuirassiers at Waterloo. "how about tying a string at the top of the steps?" "Yes. "Shall we leave it open for them?" "Not so. A couple of sheets would also not be amiss--we will enmesh the enemy!" "Right ho!" said Mike. showed that Jellicoe. stand by with your water-jug and douse it at once. Mike was tired after his journey. He would then----" "I tell you what. 'What would Napoleon have done?' I think Napoleon would have sat in a chair by his washhand-stand. too." said Psmith. and he had begun to doze when he was jerked back to wakefulness by the stealthy turning of the door-handle. but far otherwise."How about that door?" said Mike. he would have posted you by your washhand-stand. especially if. and he would have instructed Comrade Jellicoe. to give his celebrated imitation of a dormitory breathing heavily in its sleep. directly he heard the door-handle turned." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe. then they'll charge forward and all will be well. Hats off to Comrade Jackson. I seem to see Comrade Spiller coming one of the finest purlers in the world's history. had heard the noise. too. There were three steps leading down to it. If they have. I have evolved the following plan of action. There was a creaking sound. which is close to the door. The leg of a wardrobe and the leg of Jellicoe's bed made it possible for the string to be fastened in a satisfactory manner across the lower step.

It was pitch-dark in the dormitory, but Mike could follow the invaders' movements as clearly as if it had been broad daylight. They had opened the door and were listening. Jellicoe's breathing grew more asthmatic; he was flinging himself into his part with the whole-heartedness of the true artist. The creak was followed by a sound of whispering, then another creak. The enemy had advanced to the top step.... Another creak.... The vanguard had reached the second step.... In another moment---CRASH! And at that point the proceedings may be said to have formally opened. A struggling mass bumped against Mike's shins as he rose from his chair; he emptied his jug on to this mass, and a yell of anguish showed that the contents had got to the right address. Then a hand grabbed his ankle and he went down, a million sparks dancing before his eyes as a fist, flying out at a venture, caught him on the nose. Mike had not been well-disposed towards the invaders before, but now he ran amok, hitting out right and left at random. His right missed, but his left went home hard on some portion of somebody's anatomy. A kick freed his ankle and he staggered to his feet. At the same moment a sudden increase in the general volume of noise spoke eloquently of good work that was being put in by Psmith. Even at that crisis, Mike could not help feeling that if a row of this calibre did not draw Mr. Outwood from his bed, he must be an unusual kind of house-master. He plunged forward again with outstretched arms, and stumbled and fell over one of the on-the-floor section of the opposing force. They seized each other earnestly and rolled across the room till Mike, contriving to secure his adversary's head, bumped it on the floor with such abandon that, with a muffled yell, the other let go, and for the second time he rose. As he did so he was conscious of a curious thudding sound that made itself heard through the other assorted noises of the battle. All this time the fight had gone on in the blackest darkness, but now a light shone on the proceedings. Interested occupants of other dormitories, roused from their slumbers, had come to observe the sport. They were crowding in the doorway with a candle. By the light of this Mike got a swift view of the theatre of war. The enemy appeared to number five. The warrior whose head Mike had bumped on the floor was Robinson, who was sitting up feeling his skull in a gingerly fashion. To Mike's right, almost touching him, was Stone. In the direction of the door, Psmith, wielding in his right hand the cord of a dressing-gown, was engaging the remaining three with a patient smile. They were clad in pyjamas, and appeared to be feeling the dressing-gown cord acutely. The sudden light dazed both sides momentarily. The defence was the first to recover, Mike, with a swing, upsetting Stone, and Psmith, having seized and emptied Jellicoe's jug over Spiller, getting to work again with the cord in a manner that roused the utmost enthusiasm of

the spectators. [Illustration: PSMITH SEIZED AND EMPTIED JELLICOE'S JUG OVER SPILLER] Agility seemed to be the leading feature of Psmith's tactics. He was everywhere--on Mike's bed, on his own, on Jellicoe's (drawing a passionate complaint from that non-combatant, on whose face he inadvertently trod), on the floor--he ranged the room, sowing destruction. The enemy were disheartened; they had started with the idea that this was to be a surprise attack, and it was disconcerting to find the garrison armed at all points. Gradually they edged to the door, and a final rush sent them through. "Hold the door for a second," cried Psmith, and vanished. Mike was alone in the doorway. It was a situation which exactly suited his frame of mind; he stood alone in direct opposition to the community into which Fate had pitchforked him so abruptly. He liked the feeling; for the first time since his father had given him his views upon school reports that morning in the Easter holidays, he felt satisfied with life. He hoped, outnumbered as he was, that the enemy would come on again and not give the thing up in disgust; he wanted more. On an occasion like this there is rarely anything approaching concerted action on the part of the aggressors. When the attack came, it was not a combined attack; Stone, who was nearest to the door, made a sudden dash forward, and Mike hit him under the chin. Stone drew back, and there was another interval for rest and reflection. It was interrupted by the reappearance of Psmith, who strolled back along the passage swinging his dressing-gown cord as if it were some clouded cane. "Sorry to keep you waiting, Comrade Jackson," he said politely. "Duty called me elsewhere. With the kindly aid of a guide who knows the lie of the land, I have been making a short tour of the dormitories. I have poured divers jugfuls of water over Comrade Spiller's bed, Comrade Robinson's bed, Comrade Stone's--Spiller, Spiller, these are harsh words; where you pick them up I can't think--not from me. Well, well, I suppose there must be an end to the pleasantest of functions. Good-night, good-night." The door closed behind Mike and himself. For ten minutes shufflings and whisperings went on in the corridor, but nobody touched the handle. Then there was a sound of retreating footsteps, and silence reigned. On the following morning there was a notice on the house-board. It ran: INDOOR GAMES Dormitory-raiders are informed that in future neither Mr. Psmith nor Mr. Jackson will be at home to visitors.

This nuisance must now cease. R. PSMITH. M. JACKSON.

CHAPTER XXXVI ADAIR On the same morning Mike met Adair for the first time. He was going across to school with Psmith and Jellicoe, when a group of three came out of the gate of the house next door. "That's Adair," said Jellicoe, "in the middle." His voice had assumed a tone almost of awe. "Who's Adair?" asked Mike. "Captain of cricket, and lots of other things." Mike could only see the celebrity's back. He had broad shoulders and wiry, light hair, almost white. He walked well, as if he were used to running. Altogether a fit-looking sort of man. Even Mike's jaundiced eye saw that. As a matter of fact, Adair deserved more than a casual glance. He was that rare type, the natural leader. Many boys and men, if accident, or the passage of time, places them in a position where they are expected to lead, can handle the job without disaster; but that is a very different thing from being a born leader. Adair was of the sort that comes to the top by sheer force of character and determination. He was not naturally clever at work, but he had gone at it with a dogged resolution which had carried him up the school, and landed him high in the Sixth. As a cricketer he was almost entirely self-taught. Nature had given him a good eye, and left the thing at that. Adair's doggedness had triumphed over her failure to do her work thoroughly. At the cost of more trouble than most people give to their life-work he had made himself into a bowler. He read the authorities, and watched first-class players, and thought the thing out on his own account, and he divided the art of bowling into three sections. First, and most important--pitch. Second on the list--break. Third--pace. He set himself to acquire pitch. He acquired it. Bowling at his own pace and without any attempt at break, he could now drop the ball on an envelope seven times out of ten. Break was a more uncertain quantity. Sometimes he could get it at the expense of pitch, sometimes at the expense of pace. Some days he could get all three, and then he was an uncommonly bad man to face on anything but a plumb wicket. Running he had acquired in a similar manner. He had nothing approaching style, but he had twice won the mile and half-mile at the Sports off elegant runners, who knew all about stride and the correct timing of the sprints and all the rest of it.

Briefly, he was a worker. He had heart. A boy of Adair's type is always a force in a school. In a big public school of six or seven hundred, his influence is felt less; but in a small school like Sedleigh he is like a tidal wave, sweeping all before him. There were two hundred boys at Sedleigh, and there was not one of them in all probability who had not, directly or indirectly, been influenced by Adair. As a small boy his sphere was not large, but the effects of his work began to be apparent even then. It is human nature to want to get something which somebody else obviously values very much; and when it was observed by members of his form that Adair was going to great trouble and inconvenience to secure a place in the form eleven or fifteen, they naturally began to think, too, that it was worth being in those teams. The consequence was that his form always played hard. This made other forms play hard. And the net result was that, when Adair succeeded to the captaincy of football and cricket in the same year, Sedleigh, as Mr. Downing, Adair's house-master and the nearest approach to a cricket-master that Sedleigh possessed, had a fondness for saying, was a keen school. As a whole, it both worked and played with energy. All it wanted now was opportunity. This Adair was determined to give it. He had that passionate fondness for his school which every boy is popularly supposed to have, but which really is implanted in about one in every thousand. The average public-school boy _likes_ his school. He hopes it will lick Bedford at footer and Malvern at cricket, but he rather bets it won't. He is sorry to leave, and he likes going back at the end of the holidays, but as for any passionate, deep-seated love of the place, he would think it rather bad form than otherwise. If anybody came up to him, slapped him on the back, and cried, "Come along, Jenkins, my boy! Play up for the old school, Jenkins! The dear old school! The old place you love so!" he would feel seriously ill. Adair was the exception. To Adair, Sedleigh was almost a religion. Both his parents were dead; his guardian, with whom he spent the holidays, was a man with neuralgia at one end of him and gout at the other; and the only really pleasant times Adair had had, as far back as he could remember, he owed to Sedleigh. The place had grown on him, absorbed him. Where Mike, violently transplanted from Wrykyn, saw only a wretched little hole not to be mentioned in the same breath with Wrykyn, Adair, dreaming of the future, saw a colossal establishment, a public school among public schools, a lump of human radium, shooting out Blues and Balliol Scholars year after year without ceasing. It would not be so till long after he was gone and forgotten, but he did not mind that. His devotion to Sedleigh was purely unselfish. He did not want fame. All he worked for was that the school should grow and grow, keener and better at games and more prosperous year by year, till it should take its rank among _the_ schools, and to be an Old Sedleighan should be a badge passing its owner everywhere. "He's captain of cricket and footer," said Jellicoe impressively. "He's in the shooting eight. He's won the mile and half two years running. He would have boxed at Aldershot last term, only he sprained his wrist. And he plays fives jolly well!"

"Sort of little tin god," said Mike, taking a violent dislike to Adair from that moment. Mike's actual acquaintance with this all-round man dated from the dinner-hour that day. Mike was walking to the house with Psmith. Psmith was a little ruffled on account of a slight passage-of-arms he had had with his form-master during morning school. "'There's a P before the Smith,' I said to him. 'Ah, P. Smith, I see,' replied the goat. 'Not Peasmith,' I replied, exercising wonderful self-restraint, 'just Psmith.' It took me ten minutes to drive the thing into the man's head; and when I _had_ driven it in, he sent me out of the room for looking at him through my eye-glass. Comrade Jackson, I fear me we have fallen among bad men. I suspect that we are going to be much persecuted by scoundrels." "Both you chaps play cricket, I suppose?" They turned. It was Adair. Seeing him a pair of very bright blue eyes and a and mood he would have liked Adair at against all things Sedleighan was too shortly. "Haven't you _ever_ played?" "My little sister and I sometimes play with a soft ball at home." Adair looked sharply at him. A temper was evidently one of his numerous qualities. "Oh," he said. "Well, perhaps you wouldn't mind turning out this afternoon and seeing what you can do with a hard ball--if you can manage without your little sister." "I should think the form at this place would be about on a level with hers. But I don't happen to be playing cricket, as I think I told you." Adair's jaw grew squarer than ever. Mike was wearing a gloomy scowl. Psmith joined suavely in the dialogue. "My dear old comrades," he said, "don't let us brawl over this matter. This is a time for the honeyed word, the kindly eye, and the pleasant smile. Let me explain to Comrade Adair. Speaking for Comrade Jackson and myself, we should both be delighted to join in the mimic warfare of our National Game, as you suggest, only the fact is, we happen to be the Young Archaeologists. We gave in our names last night. When you are being carried back to the pavilion after your century against Loamshire--do you play Loamshire?--we shall be grubbing in the hard ground for ruined abbeys. The old choice between Pleasure and Duty, Comrade Adair. A Boy's Cross-Roads." "Then you won't play?" "No," said Mike. "Archaeology," said Psmith, with a deprecatory wave of the hand, "will face to face, Mike was aware of square jaw. In any other place sight. His prejudice, however, much for him. "I don't," he said

"Now _he's_ cross. with fervour." Mr." said Psmith. "I was not alluding to you in particular. and walked on. sir. I fear." sighed Psmith. A short. when another voice hailed them with precisely the same question. but I tell you frankly that in my opinion it is an abominable waste of time for a boy. "I'm afraid we're getting ourselves disliked here. the Archaeological Society here. eh?" It was a master." "We are. I suppose you will both play. sir. Comrade Outwood loves us. the better. When we heard that there was a society here." "At any rate. A boy ought to be playing cricket with other boys.brook no divided allegiance from her devotees." said Psmith. Outwood last night. shaking his head. "I don't like it. "If you choose to waste your time. looking after him. The more new blood we have. sir. "Archaeology!" "We gave in our names to Mr. a keen school. We want keenness here. sir." "Good job. "Excellent. But in my opinion it is foolery. sir. loafing habits. Downing--for it was no less a celebrity--started. Let's go on and see what sort ." said Mr. both in manner and appearance." Adair turned. I want every boy to be keen. to an excitable bullfinch. Scarcely had he gone. as one who perceives a loathly caterpillar in his salad. We are. Archaeology is a passion with us." He stumped off. It is not for me to interfere with one of my colleagues on the staff." "A very wild lot. too. "I saw Adair speaking to you." "On archaeology. I like every new boy to begin at once." said Psmith. I was referring to the principle of the thing." "I never loaf. wiry little man with a sharp nose and a general resemblance. It gets him into idle. not wandering at large about the country. nothing else. I tell you I don't like it. we went singing about the house. probably smoking and going into low public-houses. I suppose I can't hinder you. Downing vehemently. above all. "Both you fellows are going to play cricket." "I call it an unnatural pursuit for boys.

Outwood must have been as a boy--but he knew how to keep balls out of his wicket. It was on a Thursday afternoon. and the others who had taken wickets for Wrykyn. He was a good bat of the old plodding type. after . rather timid-looking youth--not unlike what Mr. An innings for a Kindergarten _v. but Burgess was the only Wrykyn bowler whom. when the sun shone. were both fair batsmen. Mike soon saw that cricket was by no means an unknown art at Sedleigh._ the Second Eleven of a Home of Rest for Centenarians would have soothed him. "I _will_ be good. and Milton." CHAPTER XXXVII MIKE FINDS OCCUPATION There was more than one moment during the first fortnight of term when Mike found himself regretting the attitude he had imposed upon himself with regard to Sedleighan cricket. Lead me to the nearest net. He was a long way better than Neville-Smith. and let me feel a bat in my hands again. What made it worse was that he saw. and he caught sight of white flannels on a green ground. * * * * * One solitary overture Mike made during that first fortnight. that Sedleigh cricket was not the childish burlesque of the game which he had been rash enough to assume that it must be. It couldn't be done. when he felt like rushing to Adair and shouting. in his three years' experience of the school. that swash-buckling pair. I was in the Wrykyn team three years. There were times. Adair. was a very good bowler indeed. mostly in Downing's house. Any sort of a game. but there were some quite capable men.of a lunch that large-hearted fossil-fancier is going to give us. and heard the "plonk" of bat striking ball. They only make the presence of good cricketers more likely. Altogether. The batting was not so good. was a mild. to begin with. Barnes. He did not repeat the experiment. And now he positively ached for a game. the head of Outwood's. Stone and Robinson themselves. He began to realise the eternal truth of the proverb about half a loaf and no bread. by the law of averages. who now treated Mike and Psmith with cold but consistent politeness. quite worthy colleagues even for a man who had been a star at Wrykyn. Numbers do not make good cricket. He was not a Burgess. In the first flush of his resentment against his new surroundings he had refused to play cricket. and Wyatt. and had an average of over fifty the last two seasons. Mike would have placed above him. he who preferred not to interfere with Stone and Robinson. and Stone was a good slow bowler. There were other exponents of the game. after watching behind the nets once or twice." But every time he shrank from such a climb down.

Psmith. If he had been confronted with the Great Pyramid. He was embarrassed and nervous. to be absolutely accurate. Mike on these occasions was silent and jumpy. but freshened by an almost imperceptible breeze." he said. who looked as if he were taking his first lesson at the game. was the first eleven net. It was not always possible to slip away from the let us slip away. And I never want to see another putrid fossil in my life. as he sat there watching. give me the pip. That this was not altogether a genuine thirst was proved on the third expedition. Mike walked away without a word. could stand it no longer. Adair was taking off his pads after his innings. Mike. "May I have an innings at this net?" he asked. and was trying not to show it. proved but a poor substitute for cricket. Roman camps. He went up to Adair. Outwood evidently looked upon them as among the very faithful. The air was full of the scent of the cut grass which lay in little heaps behind the nets. He seemed to be consumed by a thirst for knowledge. his brow "sicklied o'er with the pale cast of care. "This is the first eleven net. who had no counter-attraction shouting to him that he ought to be elsewhere. * * * * * The Archaeological Society expeditions. Psmith approached Mike. He patronised fossils. "by the docility of our demeanour. and kept them by his aide. even though they carried with them the privilege of listening to Psmith's views on life. "This net. where frenzied novices were bowling on a corrugated pitch to a red-haired youth with enormous feet. and brood apart for awhile. He was amiable. seemed to enjoy them hugely. which calls to one like the very voice of the game. "What?" he said. Outwood and his band were pecking away at the site of an old Roman camp." But Psmith followed his leader with the pleased and indulgent air of a father whose infant son is showing him round the garden. but Mike almost cried sometimes from boredom. and he patronised ruins. but patronising." it may be observed. Mike repeated his request. Psmith's attitude towards archaeological research struck a new note in the history of that neglected science. He looked up. he would have patronised that. "Go in after Lodge over there." "Over there" was the end net. from increased embarrassment. The natural result was that his manner was offensively abrupt. Let us find some shady nook where a . "Having inspired confidence. Mr. for Mr. More abruptly this time." said Adair coldly. The day was warm. This is the real cricket scent.

" Mike. Call me in about an hour. he got up. He had not gone many yards when a dog emerged suddenly from the undergrowth. Their departure had passed unnoticed. But now there seemed a lack of dignity in the action." said Psmith. and began to explore the wood on the other side. this grubbing for mementoes of the past. lay down. He came back to where the man was standing. Mike knew that he had seen him before somewhere." They had passed through a gate into the field beyond. heaving the comfortable sigh of the worker who by toil has earned rest. listening to the water and making centuries in his mind. Mike began to thread his way back through the trees. Mike sat on for a few minutes. shaded by trees and running with a pleasant sound over pebbles. Mike liked dogs. they saw that the archaeologists were still hard at it. and then." he said. for the Free Foresters last summer. finding this a little dull. and. you seem to be a bit of a free forester yourself. this looks a likely spot. hitching up the knees of his trousers. Comrade Jackson. "and no farther. He was too late. it is as well not to stop in order that you may get to understand each other. and sitting down. In this busy life of ours these naps by the wayside are invaluable. "Thus far. broad young man with a fair moustache. but he could not place him. "And. It's a great grief to a man of refinement. on acquaintance. dancing in among my . In fact." And Psmith. At the further end there was a brook. I can tell you. offered no opposition. He was a short." "The dickens you--Why. above all. Ah. Mike would have carried on. In the same situation a few years before. "I was just having a look round. Looking back. "I'm sorry if I'm trespassing. with his head against a mossy tree-stump. "A fatiguing pursuit. "I played against you. "Stop! What the dickens are you doing here?" shouted a voice behind him. Mine are like some furrowed field. In passing. and began to bark vigorously at him. and closed his eyes. We will rest here awhile. jumped the brook. I rather think I'll go to sleep. you're Jackson!" Mike looked at him. unless you have anything important to may lie on his back for a bit. they always liked him. over whom the proceedings connected with the Roman camp had long since begun to shed a blue depression. and they strolled away down the hill. dashed bad for the knees of the trousers." said Psmith. But when you meet a dog in some one else's wood. and listen to the music of the brook. and trusted to speed to save him.

I say." said Mike.nesting pheasants. How is it you're not at Wrykyn? What are you doing down here?" "I've left Wrykyn. You're Prendergast." "That's all right. You made fifty-eight not out." "Get any cricket?" asked Mike. Any one will tell you where Lower Borlock is." And he told how matters stood with him. He began to talk about himself. I'm simply dying for a game. it is not always tactful to inquire the reason. I was afraid the only thing you would remember about me was that you took a century mostly off my bowling. By Jove. turning to the subject next his heart. but I could nip back. "I hang out down here. I'll tell you how it is. you know." "Thanks. It's just off the London road. we can't give you a Wrykyn wicket. I can hardly keep my hands off a bat. "So. "Any Wednesday or Saturday. The Lower Borlock pitch isn't a shirt-front. I do a little farming and a good deal of pottering about." he concluded." "I'll give you all you want." "I'm frightfully sorry. By the way. Can you come next Saturday?" "Rather. There's a sign-post where you turn off. get on to my bike--I've got it down here--and meet you anywhere you liked. Look here. * * * * * . "I'm supposed to be hunting for ruins and things"--Mike's ideas on the subject of archaeology were vague--"but I could always slip away. Very keen." "You ought to have had me second ball. you see." "I'll play on a rockery. When a fellow tells you that he has left school unexpectedly. "Only village." Prendergast suddenly changed the conversation." "I'll lend you everything. if you want me to. only cover dropped it. We all start out together. Where do you spring from?" "Of course--I remember you now. but no great shakes." "Don't rake up forgotten tragedies. What you'd better do is to ride straight to Lower Borlock--that's the name of the place--and I'll meet you on the ground. how are you off for cricket now? Have you ever got a spare afternoon?" Mike's heart leaped. I suppose you can fix me up with a bat and pads? I don't want to bring mine.

Mike began. and it grew with further acquaintance. sleepily. To Mr. The two lived in a state of simmering hostility. to enjoy himself. "I'm going to play cricket. I think I'll come and watch you. in that it was the direct cause of Mike's appearance in Sedleigh cricket. proved more than usually difficult in his dealings with Mike. M. Mr. employed doing "over-time. It was not Wrykyn. and the most important. punctuated at intervals by crises. Cricket I dislike. Downing. on being awakened and told the news. Their victory was due to a hurricane innings of seventy-five by a new-comer to the team." One of the most acute of these crises. The only really considerable element making for discomfort now was Mr. It was. As time went on. pompous. It may be remembered that this well-supported institution was under Mr. never an easy form-master to get on with. Just as you had to join the Archaeological Society to secure the . Downing. To Mike. Downing was all that a master ought not to be. I say. and Mr. Downing. Jackson. who did nothing for the school and apparently had none of the instincts which should be implanted in the healthy boy. indeed. but watching cricket is one of the finest of Britain's manly sports. or I may get lugged in to play for the school. which usually resulted in Lower Borlock having to play some unskilled labourer in place of their star batsman." * * * * * That Saturday. and are in a position to play it at least twice a week."You're going to what?" asked Psmith. life can never be entirely grey." "My lips are sealed. Mr. and openly influenced in his official dealings with his form by his own private likes and dislikes. They had taken a dislike to each other at their first meeting. but it was a very decent substitute. Downing was rather strong on the healthy boy. will you? I don't want it to get about. I'll borrow Jellicoe's bicycle. If you like the game. and his average for Lower Borlock reached the fifties and stayed there. his pet hobby and the apple of his eye. Downing's special care. Mike was simply an unamiable loafer. though he would not have admitted it. don't tell a soul. had to do with the third weekly meeting of the School Fire Brigade. fussy. for a village near here. Lower Borlock smote the men of Chidford hip and thigh. By bad luck it was in his form that Mike had been placed on arrival. CHAPTER XXXVIII THE FIRE BRIGADE MEETING Cricket is the great safety-valve.

We will now proceed to the painful details. a sort of high priest. was a young bull-terrier belonging to Mr. At this point it is as well to introduce Sammy to the reader. Downing had closed the minute-book. with green stripes. To show a keenness for cricket was good. Downing. with a thin green stripe. and a particular friend of Mike's. short for Sampson. Downing pondered "Red. the tongue of an ant-eater. who looked on the Brigade in the right. much in request during French lessons. "One moment. of the School House. sir. a tenor voice. The proceedings always began in the same way. The weekly meetings were always full of life and excitement. As soon as Mr. light-hearted dog with a white coat. and a manner which was a happy blend of hurricane and circular saw. sir?" asked Stone. so to become a member of the Fire Brigade was a safe passport to the regard of Mr. After that the entertainment varied according to whether the members happened to be fertile or not in ideas for the disturbing of the peace. Stone and Robinson. spirit. "Shall I put it to the vote. At its head was Mr. Wilson. Outwood. In passing. Under them were the rank and file. about thirty in all. was the Sedleigh colour. The Brigade was carefully organised." Red. by the reading of the minutes of the last meeting. who. Downing. These two officials were those sportive allies. Downing's form-room. He was a large. Jellicoe owned a clock-work rat. * * * * * The meetings of the Fire Brigade were held after school in Mr. Stone. Sammy was the other. Sammy. "Well. of whom perhaps seven were earnest workers. The rest were entirely frivolous. Wilson?" "Please. held up his hand. couldn't we have a uniform for the Brigade?" "A uniform?" Mr. of Outwood's house. Sammy was a great favourite in the school. and was apparently made of india-rubber. and under the captain a vice-captain. sir. but to join the Fire Brigade was best of all. or Downing. the Wrykynian being always a firm ally of every dog he met after two minutes' acquaintance. had joined young and worked their way up. Downing. an engaging expression. He had long legs. under him was a captain. To-day they were in very fair form." .esteem of Mr. having perceived at a very early date the gorgeous opportunities for ragging which the Brigade offered to its members. If it is possible for a man to have two apples of his eye.

Stone. Downing banged on his desk. of course. and the meeting had divided. sir. perfectly preposterous. please. get back to your place. Mr." A scuffling of feet."Those in favour of the motion move to the left. listen to me. a slamming of desk-lids and an upset blackboard." . Downing rapped irritably on his desk. "Silence!" "Then. The whole strength of the company: "Please. couldn't we have an honour cap? It wouldn't be expensive. the falling timbers!" The Fire Brigade had been in action once and once only in the memory of man." "Please. "Sit down!" he said. sir. may I go and get measured this evening?" "Please. sir." "Oo-oo-oo-oo. sir. We cannot plunge into needless expense. out of the question. may we have helmets?" "Very useful as a protection against falling timbers. sir-r-r!" "Be _quiet!_ Entirely out of the question. Mr. Wilson?" "Please. I cannot have this noise and disturbance! Another time when a point arises it must be settled by a show of hands. if they knew I was going out to fires without a helmet. the motion is carried by twenty-five votes to six. "sit down! I won't have this noise and disturbance. sir-r-r!" "But. and that time it was a haystack which had burnt itself out just as the rescuers had succeeded in fastening the hose to the hydrant." "Please. sir. "I don't think my people would be pleased. Stone. and it would be just as good as a helmet for all the timbers that are likely to fall on our heads. sir. of course. those against it to the right." said Stone. sir. sit down--Wilson. Well." "Oo-oo-oo-oo. sir. may we have helmets?" "Those in favour--" began Stone." said Robinson. sir----" "Si-_lence_! The idea of a uniform is. the danger!" "Please. "Silence! Silence!! Silence!!! Helmets are. sir.

leave the room!" "Sir. "Noise. sir. saw that he was accompanied by Jellicoe's clock-work rat. I'm not making a whining noise. There was a tap at the door and Mike walked in." said Stone helpfully. "I deplore this growing spirit of flippancy. sir-r-r." said Robinson. sir?" said a voice "off.Mr. we are busy. sir?" asked Mike." Being interrupted in one of his addresses to the Brigade irritated Mr. sir! I wasn't facetious! Or couldn't we have footer-tops. "Sir. "do me one hundred lines. He was not alone." was cut off by the closing door. as many Wrykynians . sir?" asked Mike." "Are you making that whining noise?" "Whining noise. which moved rapidly over the floor in the direction of the opposite wall. Jackson. sir?" inquired Mike. "Don't be absurd!" snapped Mr. there must be less of this flippancy. _please_. I want you boys above all to be keen. like the first fifteen have? They----" "Wilson. "May I fetch a book from my desk. "What--is--that--noise?" shrilled Mr. puzzled." he remarked frostily. "I tell you I deplore it! It is not right! If this Fire Brigade is to be of solid use. sir. I--What is that noise?" From the other side of the door proceeded a sound like water gurgling from a bottle. We must have keenness. Downing smiled a wry smile. "Our Wilson is facetious. Wilson. no. And. Downing. Wilson!" "Yes." "What _sort_ of noise. Mr. "I think it's something outside the window. Those near enough to see. Downing. sir? No. The sufferer appeared to have a high voice. Downing proceeded to improve the occasion. sir." as he reached the door." he said. The muffled cries grew more distinct. "A bird." A pained "OO-oo-oo. mingled with cries half-suppressed. I think. Downing. as if somebody were being prevented from uttering them by a hand laid over his mouth. "It's outside the door. sir!" "This moment. "Very well--be quick.

and penalties with the rapidity of a Maxim gun. threats." "It may be one of the desks squeaking. if you do not sit down. Downing's desk resembled thunder. It rose above all the other noises till in time they gave up the competition and died away." "They are mowing the cricket field. among the ruins barking triumphantly. It was a question invented by Wrykyn for use in just such a case as this. one hundred lines for gross disorder! Windham. was just in time to see Sammy with a last leap spring on his prey and begin worrying it. It was a stirring. go quietly from the room. Durand! Don't shuffle your feet in that abominable way. sir!" As he spoke the muffled whining changed suddenly to a series of tenor shrieks. Come in. Mr. Broughton-Knight? I will not have this disgraceful noise and disorder! The meeting is at an end. Henderson. Jackson and Wilson." put in Stone. "Silence! Wilson?" "Yes. you can all hear it perfectly plainly. Sammy had by this time disposed of the clock-work rat. Downing acidly. "Perhaps that's it." said Mr. all shouted. rising from his place. and was now standing. _Quietly_. The banging on Mr." "Or somebody's boots. "Don't shout at me from the corridor like that. and pointed it up the alley-way between the two rows of desks. bustling scene. each in the manner that seemed proper to him. sir?" bellowed the unseen one. What are you doing." "Yes." Crash! .had asked before him. remain." added Robinson. Willing hands had by this time deflected the clockwork rat from the wall to which it had been steering. sir. sit down! Donovan. and the india-rubber form of Sammy bounded into the room like an excited kangaroo. Mr. The twenty-three members of the Brigade who were not earnest instantly dealt with the situation. you will be severely punished. others flung books. Downing. "A rat!" shouted Robinson. Downing shot out orders. sir. It is a curious whining noise. Vincent. the same! Go to your seat. "They do sometimes. Some leaped on to forms. like Marius. "to imitate the noise. Chaos reigned." said the invisible Wilson. "I do not propose. I said. sir. "Stone. all of you.

" said Mike. it will interfere with your Archaeological studies." It was plain to Mr. Also he kept wicket for the school. it was true. but when you told me to come in. Go quietly from the room. Wilson was in the Fire Brigade. sir. but it may teach you that we have no room at Sedleigh for boys who spend their time loafing about and making themselves a nuisance. come here. and he came in after the rat." "I tried to collar him. CHAPTER XXXIX ACHILLES LEAVES HIS TENT . "Jackson and Wilson. I was playing with a clock-work rat----" "What business have you to be playing with clock-work rats?" "Then I remembered. That will do. Mr." "I met Sammy on the gravel outside and he followed me. Mike was a member of the Archaeological Society." Wilson departed with the air of a man who has had a great deal of fun. everybody. Downing allowed these facts to influence him in passing sentence. "the rat happened to be pointing in the same direction. but nevertheless a member. and paid very little for it. and had refused to play cricket. I distinctly saw you upset that black-board with a movement of your hand--one hundred lines. Downing turned to Mike." he said. but Mr. Mr. "You may go. Jackson." And Mr. Jackson. "that I had left my Horace in my desk." said Wilson. "Well. In affairs of this kind a master has a habit of getting the last word. Downing that the burden of sin was shared equally by both culprits. Jackson. sir. Wilson?" "Please. I fear." Mike removed the yelling Sammy and shut the door on him. What's the meaning of this disgraceful conduct? Put that dog out of the room. "You will stay in on Saturday afternoon. sir. Downing liked Wilson and disliked Mike. I had to let him go. as one who tells of strange things. too. "One hundred lines. Downing walked out of the room."Wolferstan. Wilson. so he came in. this is no place for boys who do nothing but waste their time. We are a keen school. Wilson had supplied the rat. so I came in----" "And by a fluke. frivolous at times." The meeting dispersed. Mike the dog.

" Jellicoe was profuse in his thanks. He felt that he. In a gloomy frame of mind he sat down to write to Bob. Mike felt that Fate was treating him badly. who was playing regularly for the 'Varsity this season. and got up. and. Having to yield a sovereign to Jellicoe--why on earth did the man want all that?--meant that. (Which. Mike's heart warmed to them. The little disturbance in the dormitory was a thing of the past. But it's about all I have got." said Mike. They sat down. so might be expected to be in a sufficiently softened mood to advance the needful. after the Sammy incident. But the motives of the expedition were obviously friendly. In the previous game he had scored ninety-eight. done with. When one has been in the habit of confining one's lendings and borrowings to sixpences and shillings. "What did he give you?" asked Stone. He was in warlike mood. Stone and Robinson must learn to know and appreciate one another. unless a carefully worded letter to his brother Bob at Oxford had the desired effect. and only the previous week had made a century against Sussex. Robinson was laughing. and disappeared in a cloud of gratitude. they should have it." said Robinson.They say misfortunes never come singly. as a matter of fact. "I say. "You're a sportsman. sorry. he would be practically penniless for weeks. Being kept in on Saturday meant that he would be unable to turn out for Little Borlock against Claythorpe." "Oh. contemporary with Julius Caesar. They were just ordinary raggers of the type found at every . and welcomed the intrusion. As Mike sat brooding over his wrongs in his study. forgotten. You can freeze on to it. Robinson on the table. Stone in Psmith' s deck-chair. the return match. I do happen to have a quid. Mike put down his pen. do you mind if I don't tell you? I don't want to tell anybody. "As a matter of fact.) Mike was struggling with the opening sentences of this letter--he was never a very ready writer--when Stone and Robinson burst into the room. Jellicoe came into the room. asked for the loan of a sovereign. nothing much wrong with Stone and Robinson. I'm in a beastly hole. a request for a sovereign comes as something of a blow. If Stone and Robinson wanted battle. "What on earth for?" asked Mike. it may be stated at once. so don't be shy about paying it back. without preamble. There was. by return of post. The fact is. he did. Stone beamed. and there was a lob bowler in the Claythorpe ranks whom he was particularly anxious to meet again. if you like.

and always with an eye wide open for any adventure. "Were you sacked?" "No. a keen school. "What a beastly swindle!" "That's because you don't play cricket. "Those Fire Brigade meetings. to the mutual advantage of themselves and the rest of the community. The Stones and Robinsons are the swashbucklers of the school world. "Well. They were useful at cricket." "What!" "Is Wilson in too?" "No." "'We are. with a whole-hearted and cheerful indifference to other people's feelings. regarded Stone and Robinson as bullies of the genuine "Eric" and "St." . Sometimes they go through their whole school career without accident. More often they run up against a snag in the shape of some serious-minded and muscular person who objects to having his toes trodden on and being shoved off the pavement. Old Downing lets you do what you like if you join the Fire Brigade and play cricket. "Don't you ever play?" "I have played a bit. you could get into some sort of a team. One's opinion of this type of youth varies according to one's point of view. Masters were rather afraid of them. My pater took me away. Were you at school anywhere before you came here?" "I was at Wrykyn. If you know one end of a bat from the other. they are not particular so long as it promises excitement." said Stone. As for Mike." "Don't you!" said Mike." "Why on earth did you leave?" asked Stone. They go about. and began to get out the tea-things. small and large. "I got Saturday afternoon. Small boys whom they had occasion to kick. he now found them pleasant company. why don't you have a shot? We aren't such flyers here. but apt not to take Sedleigh as seriously as he could have wished. "are a rag." Stone and Robinson were quite concerned. You can do what you like. They looked on school life purely as a vehicle for ragging. He got a hundred lines. and then they usually sober down. Adair had a smouldering dislike for them. Winifred's" brand. above all.'" quoted Stone. and you never get more than a hundred lines. either from pure high spirits or as a punishment for some slip from the narrow path which the ideal small boy should tread. loud and boisterous. As to the kind of adventure. and a vast store of animal spirits." said Mike. They were absolutely free from brain. They had a certain amount of muscle.public school. treading on the toes of their neighbour and shoving him off the pavement.

He asked me if I'd like some games for them. You _must_ play. "Why don't you? They're always sticking on side because they've won the house cup three years running." said Robinson. what a rag!" "What's wrong now?" inquired Mike politely." "But why not for the school?" "Why should I? It's much better fun for the village. and the others?" "Brother. I play for a village near here." "Masters don't play in house matches. To-morrow's Mid-term Service day. Stone broke the silence." "Think of the rag. do you bat or bowl?" "Bat. I say. There's chapel at half-past nine till half-past ten. A man who played against Wrykyn for the Free Foresters captains them." . "I've got an idea. "But I mean to say--look here! What I mean is. I was in the team three years. and I should have been captain this year. "Why." said Mike. look here. old Downing fancies himself as a bowler. Only a friendly. yes. do play. Downing always turns out on Mid-term Service day. You don't get ordered about by Adair. I say. "I did. "Enough for six. and Robinson nearly dropped his tea-cup. "By Jove. Then the rest of the day's a whole holiday. Why don't you play and let's smash them?" "By Jove. W. surely?" "This isn't a real house match." "What!" "Well. We're playing Downing's. "Are you any relation of the Jacksons there--J. Place called Little Borlock. Stone gaped." said Stone."Wrykyn?" said Robinson. There are always house matches. if I'd stopped on." agreed Robinson." "Adair sticks on side." There was a profound and gratifying sensation. "Why. didn't you play at all there?" "Yes. but they always have it in the fourth week. My word. why aren't you playing? Why don't you play now?" "I do. Why?" Robinson rocked on the table. It's nowhere near the middle of the term. for a start." said Stone. and knock the cover off him.

He studied his _Wisden_." "Yes. "Are you the M. and (_c_) that by not playing cricket he is ruining his chances in this world and imperilling them in the next." said Mike. "I say. who had an average of fifty-one point nought three last year?" [Illustration: "ARE YOU THE M."But the team's full. Downing assumed it. It was so in Mike's case." said Mike. Have some tea?" CHAPTER XL THE MATCH WITH DOWNING'S It is the curious instinct which prompts most people to rub a thing in that makes the lot of the average convert an unhappy one. Mr." They dashed out of the room. quite unexpectedly. you come upon this boy dressed in cricket flannels. Barnes appeared." Barnes was an enthusiastic cricketer. and when. "Thanks awfully. and he had an immense respect for Wrykyn cricket. Mike was not a genuine convert. THEN. that the seeds of your eloquence have fallen on fruitful soil and sprouted. I was in the team. and make him alter it. and a murmur of excited conversation. . Then footsteps returning down the passage. Most leap at the opportunity. We'll nip across to Barnes' study. When you have been impressing upon a non-cricketing boy for nearly a month that (_a_) the school is above all a keen school. JACKSON. wearing cricket boots and carrying a cricket bag. but to Mr." he said. it seems only natural to assume that you have converted him. "then--er--will you play against Downing's to-morrow?" "Rather. Only the very self-controlled can refrain from improving the occasion and scoring off the convert. I mean. "is it true? Or is Stone rotting? About Wrykyn." Barnes's manner became like that of a curate talking to a bishop. (_b_) that all members of it should play cricket. on his face the look of one who has seen visions. From down the passage Mike heard yells of "_Barnes_!" the closing of a door." he said. Downing he had the outward aspect of one. then. "I say. Jackson. "The list isn't up yet. WHO HAD AN AVERAGE OF FIFTY-ONE POINT NOUGHT THREE LAST YEAR?"] "Yes.

" he said. who has been found crying in the boot-room over the photograph of his sister. "This is indeed Saul among the prophets. and the request that Mike would go in first with him. "a keen house. In stories of the "Not Really a Duffer" type. Downing." * * * * * There were a number of pitches dotted about over the field. who was with Mike. At the beginning of the previous season Sedleigh had played a scratch team from a neighbouring town on a wicket which. could not have looked anything but a cricketer if he had turned out in a tweed suit and hobnail boots. above all. Why this sudden enthusiasm for a game which I understood that you despised? Are our opponents so reduced?" Psmith. and which never failed to ruffle Mr. the archaeologist of yesterday. in the way he took . I notice. Your enthusiasm has bounds. It was a good wicket. becomes the cricketer of to-day. "Our Jackson clad in suit of mail and armed for the fray!" This was Mr. with a kind of mild surprise. With Mike it was different. We are essentially versatile. with the result that that once-leisurely official now found himself sometimes. and the Selection Committee unfortunately passed me over." "In our house. Mike. The latter's reformation had dated from that moment. Adair. competition is fierce. "What!" he cried." "Indeed. had naturally selected the best for his own match. Adair had infected the ground-man with some of his own keenness. "We are. Smith? You are not playing yourself. * * * * * Barnes. As a matter of fact the wickets at Sedleigh were nearly always good. 2 manner--the playful. Cricketer was written all over him--in his walk. sir. Drones are not welcomed by us. on the cricket field." said Psmith earnestly.He was walking to the field with Adair and another member of his team when he came upon Mike. was absolutely undistinguishable from the surrounding turf. Jackson. where the nervous new boy. It is the right spirit. as captain of cricket. except for the creases. came up to Mike with the news that he had won the toss. took charge of the affair with a languid grace which had maddened hundreds in its time. Downing's No. working really hard. for there was always a touch of the London Park about it on Mid-term Service day. and behind the pavilion after the match Adair had spoken certain home truths to the ground-man. timidly jubilant. There was no pitying smile on Adair's face as he started his run preparatory to sending down the first ball. Mike saw. nobody suspects that he is really a prodigy till he hits the Bully's first ball out of the ground for six. "I like to see it. sir. contrives to get an innings in a game. sir.

The last ball he turned to leg for a single. Downing irritably. He was more than usually anxious to make runs to-day. If the spectators had expected Mike to begin any firework effects with the first ball. The fieldsmen changed over. quite a large crowd had collected near the pavilion to watch. The fact in Mike's case had gone round the field. Perhaps if it had been allowed to pitch. was billed to break from leg. Off the first ball of the master's over a leg-bye was run. Half-way through the over a beautiful square cut forced a passage through the crowd by the pavilion. in his stand at the wickets. The ball. He had seen Adair bowl at the nets. and. and hit it a couple of feet from the ground. Mike went out at it. and he knew that he was good. six dangerous balls beautifully played. He played the over through with a grace worthy of his brother Joe. This time the hope was fulfilled. Mr. Mike took guard. The crowd was now reluctantly dispersing to its own games. "Get to them. The general interest had now settled on the match between Outwood's and Downing's. Mike's masterly treatment of the opening over had impressed the spectators.guard. The ball was well up. it might have broken in and become quite dangerous. The ball dropped with a thud and a spurting of dust in the road that ran along one side of the cricket field. Downing was a bowler with a style of his own. and dashed up against the rails. His treatment of Adair's next over was freer. It was returned on the instalment system by helpers from other games. as the ball came . It was generally anticipated that he would do something special with them. and there was a popular desire to see how he would deal with Mr. Jenkins. and off the wicket on the on-side. Mike started cautiously. but the programme was subject to alterations. and ended with a combination of step and jump. they were disappointed. Downing started his minuet-cake-walk. took three more short steps. He took two short steps. Downing's slows. during which the ball emerged from behind his back and started on its slow career to the wicket. Adair started to bowl with the feeling that this was somebody who had more than a little knowledge of how to deal with good bowling and punish bad. slow. as several of the other games had not yet begun." said Mr. The whole business had some of the dignity of the old-fashioned minuet. and mid-on. but it stopped as Mr. whose heart was obviously not in the thing. failed to stop it. A half-volley this time. and the bowler began his manoeuvres again. He drove the sixth ball past cover for three. gave a jump. Mike slammed it back. and he meant to take no risks till he could afford to do so. two long steps. The first over was a maiden. He had got a sight of the ball now. when delivered. in the hope that it might see something more sensational. subtly blended with the careless vigour of a cake-walk.

waited in position for number four. Then he looked up. there was a strong probability that Mr. was not out at lunch time with a score of eleven. Scared by this escape. A howl of untuneful applause rose from the watchers in the pavilion. with the feeling that this sort of bowling was too good to be true. one is inclined to be abrupt. Downing bowled one more over. in Adair's fifth over. He charged up to the wicket as a wounded buffalo sometimes charges a gun. and Mike. [Illustration: "WHY DID YOU SAY YOU DIDN'T PLAY CRICKET?" HE ASKED] When one has been bowling the whole morning. There are moments when a sort of panic seizes a bowler. without the slightest success. if you can manage it. uttered with painful distinctness the words. Mike finished unfastening an obstinate strap. "Why did you say you didn't play cricket?" he asked abruptly. Downing. "Take him off!" That was how the most sensational day's cricket began that Sedleigh had known. Downing would pitch his next ball short. Jenkins. and the total of his side. and. By the time the over was finished." "Sir. * * * * * As Mike was taking off his pads in the pavilion. he missed Barnes--the first occasion since the game began on which that mild batsman had attempted to score more than a single. Mike had then made a hundred and three. by three wides. in addition. sir----" "Don't talk in the field. Adair came up. The expected happened. A description of the details of the morning's play would be monotonous. offering no more chances. sat on the splice like a limpet. . "Get to them. from the neighbourhood of the pavilion. Outwood's captain shrank back into his shell. He suddenly abandoned science and ran amok. where. His whole idea now was to bowl fast. This happened now with Mr. And a shrill small voice. and bowling well. Mike's score had been increased by sixteen. His run lost its stateliness and increased its vigour. Mr. it is usually as well to be batting. off which Mike helped himself to sixteen runs. and hit the road at about the same spot where the first had landed. It is enough to say that they ran on much the same lines as the third and fourth overs of the match." Having had a full-pitch hit for six and a half-volley for four. and then retired moodily to cover-point. When a slow bowler starts to bowl fast. The third ball was a slow long-hop. please.back from the boundary.

was met with a storm of opposition. "Above it. The result was that not only he himself." "They'll be rather sick if we don't." said Stone. they would be fools not to make the most of the situation. "Great Scott. As a matter of fact. but also--which was rather unfair--his house. "Then you won't play?" asked Adair. Three years. Can't you see that by a miracle we've got a chance of getting a jolly good bit of our own back against those Downing's ticks? What we've got to do is to jolly well keep them in the field all day if we . having got Downing's up a tree. On occasions when boys in his own house and boys from other houses were accomplices and partners in wrong-doing. Mr. There's a difference. "No. Mike tossed his pads into his bag and got up. "Sick! I should think they would. "Declare!" said Robinson. I shall want a lot of coaching at that end net of yours before I'm fit to play for Sedleigh. "Will you play for us against the Old Sedleighans to-morrow?" he said at length. the most unpopular is he who by the silent tribunal of a school is convicted of favouritism. It had been that master's somewhat injudicious practice for many years to treat his own house as a sort of Chosen People. thanks. I said I wasn't going to play here. "I'm not keeping you. Not up to it. Of all masters. had acquired a good deal of unpopularity. won't they?" suggested Barnes." There was a silence. Downing distributed his thunderbolts unequally. what on earth are you talking about?" "Declare!" Stone's voice was almost a wail of indignation. they had better think of declaring somewhere about half-past three or four. And the dislike deepens if it is a house which he favours and not merely individuals. I was in the Wrykyn team before I came here. unless anything happened and wickets began to fall a bit faster." There was another pause. I suppose?" "Not a bit."I didn't say anything of the kind. too. Downing. It was remarkable what a number of members of Outwood's house appeared to cherish a personal grudge against Mr. am I?" said Mike. politely. "I never saw such a chump. "That's just the gay idea. The general consensus of opinion in Outwood's during the luncheon interval was that. and the school noticed it. Barnes's remark that he supposed." Adair was silent for a moment.

" said Barnes unhappily." "Rather not. But the wicket was too good to give him a chance. The fieldsmen clapped in quite an indulgent sort of . generally breaks up a big stand at cricket before the field has suffered too much. in one of which a horse. passing in the road. At four o'clock. Change-bowlers of various actions and paces. tried their luck. going in first early in the morning. Nor will Robinson." said Robinson. after a full day's play. and his first half-dozen overs had to be watched carefully." "Well. the closure would be applied and their ordeal finished. I won't then. Games had frequently been one-sided. smote lustily at a rather wide half-volley and was caught at short-slip for thirty-three. playing himself in again." "Don't you worry about that. fortified by food and rest." And so it came about that that particular Mid-term Service-day match made history. had neither completed its innings nor declared it closed when stumps were drawn at 6." said Stone with a wide grin. it was assumed by the field. Downing took a couple more overs. Bowlers came and went. "Only you know they're rather sick already. And the rest. perhaps they'll stick on less side about things in general in future. amidst applause. Barnes. Mr. if I can get it. Besides. greatly daring. and that is what happened now. "If you declare. There was almost a sigh of relief when frantic cheering from the crowd told that the feat had been accomplished. The bowling of a house team is all head and no body. Big scores had often been put up on Mid-term Service day. In no previous Sedleigh match. He retired blushfully to the pavilion. mercifully. "They'll be a lot sicker before we've finished. I want an innings against that bilge of old Downing's. had the pathetic words "Did not bat" been written against the whole of one of the contending teams.can. each weirder and more futile than the last. For a quarter of an hour Mike was comparatively quiet.15. These are the things which mark epochs. was bowling really well. when the score stood at two hundred and twenty for no wicket. are simply the sort of things one sees in dreams after a heavy supper. But still the first-wicket stand continued." "So do I.30. nearly had its useful life cut suddenly short. If they lose about a dozen pounds each through sweating about in the sun after Jackson's drives. As Mike had then made a hundred and eighty-seven. Time. Adair pounded away at one end with brief intervals between the attacks. proceeded to get to business once more. But it had never happened before in the annals of the school that one side. and be jolly glad it's so beastly hot. I swear I won't field. The first-change pair are poor. the small change. and Stone came out. The first pair probably have some idea of length and break. and Mike. Adair. or when one is out without one's gun. Play was resumed at 2. that directly he had topped his second century.

Lobs were being tried..." snapped Mr. Hammond..way.. and the road at this period of the game became absolutely unsafe for pedestrians and traffic. P. He has probably gone over to the house to fetch something." Some even began to edge towards the pavilion. as a matter of fact.. and still Barnes made no sign. a slip of paper. as who should say. 33 M. there was on view.. You must declare your innings closed. But the next ball was bowled......" "This is absurd." said Stone.... 124 . as the three hundred and fifty went up on the board. not out. Downing walked moodily to his place. 277 W. too. He might be awfully annoyed if we did anything like that without consulting him." "Absurd. _c_. and the next over. but an excellent eye... He had an unorthodox style... Downing." "It is perfect foolery.. "Capital... but his score." Mr. The bowling had now become almost unbelievably bad... "This is foolery. nearly weeping with pure joy. The writing on it was as follows: OUTWOOD'S _v_. And now let's start _our_ innings." "He's very touchy. (The conscience-stricken captain of Outwood's was.. was mounting steadily. we can't unless Barnes does. Mike's pace had become slower. DOWNING'S _Outwood's.) A grey dismay settled on the field. "I think Barnes must have left the field.. The game has become a farce. as was only natural. was playing an innings of the How-to-brighten-cricket type... "Barnes!" "Please.. a week later." "I think Jenkins is just going to bowl... Hassall. capital. "Barnes!" he called.. not out.... Jackson. sir. and the next after that. * * * * * In a neat wooden frame in the senior day-room at Outwood's. First innings." "Declare! Sir.... Stone. sir. being practically held down by Robinson and other ruffians by force.. A committee of three was at that moment engaged in sitting on Barnes's head in the first eleven changing-room. sir. _b_. just above the mantelpiece.... There was no reply. J. and Stone. in order to correct a more than usually feverish attack of conscience...... some species of telepathy telling him what was detaining his captain. Barnes.._ J.

"the manly what-d'you-call-it of cricket and all that sort of thing ought to make him fall on your neck to-morrow and weep over you as a foeman worthy of his steel...... it's worth it. Comrade Jellicoe and. slipping his little hand in mine. On the other hand. fagged as he was... from what I have seen of our bright little friend. for three quid.." he said... I suppose. here and there. a man can put up with having his bowling hit a little. "In an ordinary way. 37 ----Total (for one wicket).. not to mention three wides.. "the the place was crept to my side. In fact." said he......" "He doesn't deserve to. felt that all he wanted was to go to bed and stay there for a week. and his eyes were so tired that he could not keep them open... he will do his best to make it distinctly hot for you. But I am prepared to bet a reasonable sum that he will give no Jiu-jitsu exhibition of this kind. Twenty-eight off one over. as he lay back in Psmith's deck-chair.... even if one has scored mainly by the medium of boundaries. and Mike.. 471 Downing's did not bat.. But a cordial invitation from the senior day-room to be the guest of the evening at about the biggest rag of the century had been refused on the plea of fatigue. could have been the Petted Hero." murmured Mike. the undeniable annoyance of that battered bowler.. You have shown the lads of the village how Comrade Downing's bowling ought to be treated. I should say that. leaning against the mantelpiece. discoursed in a desultory way on the day's happenings--the score off Mr. would have made Job foam at the mouth. is.Extras. if he had cared to take the part. touched me This interested Mike. Mike." "I don't care.. "In theory. CHAPTER XLI THE SINGULAR BEHAVIOUR OF JELLICOE Outwood's rollicked considerably that night." Psmith smoothed his hair at the glass and turned round again.. shifting his aching limbs in the chair.. One does not make two hundred and seventy-seven runs on a hot day without feeling the effects. I don't suppose he'll ever take another wicket. Psmith. But your performance was cruelty to animals. and the probability of his venting his annoyance on Mike next day. You have lit a candle this day which can never be blown out.. You will probably get sacked....." . When all ringing with song and merriment. His hands and arms burned as if they were red-hot.. "The only blot on this day of mirth and good-will singular conduct of our friend Jellicoe. in a small way.. Downing.

He uttered no word for quite three minutes. and then dropped gently off. Psmith chatted for general. Mike tumbled into bed that night like He ached all over. Jackson!" he said. who appeared to be to the conversation. a voice spoke from the darkness at his side. I can't get to sleep. I think an eye ought to be kept on Comrade Jellicoe. At the end of which time he gave a sound midway between a snort and a sigh." "I got some from my brother at Oxford." Silence again. He wanted four. and gathered in a fifth during his first summer holidays. I'm pretty well cleaned out. and then a weight descended in the neighbourhood of Mike's toes. a time on human affairs in Jellicoe. Well. I hope. "Are you asleep. Jellicoe was apparently not in conversational mood."What! Three quid!" "Three jingling. he'll pay me back a bit. We may be helping towards furnishing the home. contributed nothing After Psmith had gone to sleep." There was a creaking." "Perhaps he's saving up to get married. It was done on the correspondence system. "I say. . but he could not sleep. There was a Siamese prince fellow at my dame's at Eton who had four wives when he arrived. when he's collected enough for his needs. as the best substitute for sleep. It was only yesterday that he borrowed a quid from _me_!" "He must be saving money fast. I'm stiff all over. wrapped in gloom. nothing." "I'll come over and sit on your bed." "Nor can I." * * * * * a log. the various points of his innings that day. He felt very hot and uncomfortable. clinking sovereigns. "Yes?" "Have you--oh. His Prime Minister fixed it up at the other end. and sent him the glad news on a picture post-card. There appear to be the makings of a financier about Comrade Jellicoe. Just as he was wondering whether it would not be a good idea to get up and have a cold bath. Jackson?" "Who's that?" "Me--Jellicoe." "But the man must be living at the rate of I don't know what. Mike lay for some time running over in his mind.

as Jellicoe digested these great thoughts. or something. in order to give verisimilitude. "Hullo?" he said. But if you were." "Everybody's would. 'Hullo!' And then they'd say. to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative."Jackson. "My pater would be frightfully sick. I expect. or to Australia. and you'd go in. My sister would be jolly sick." "Who's been sacked?" Mike's mind was still under a cloud. Jackson!" "Hullo! What's the matter? Who's that?" . and then you'd have to hang about. My mater would be sick. Jackson? I say. and presently you'd hear them come in." "Yes. And then I suppose there'd be an awful row and general sickness. too. Then he spoke again. and all that. I don't know. After being sacked. 'What are you doing here? 'And you'd say----" "What on earth are you talking about?" "About what would happen. and you'd go out into the passage." Mike was too tired to give his mind to the subject. and the servant would open the door. "Nobody. I meant. "It would be a jolly beastly thing to get sacked. And then you'd be sent into a bank. So would mine." The bed creaked. "You'd get home in the middle of the afternoon." "Happen when?" "When you got home. I suppose." "Hullo?" "I say. and you'd drive up to the house. flung so much agitated surprise into the last word that it woke Mike from a troubled doze into which he had fallen. Have you got any sisters." Mike dozed off again. Jellicoe droned on in a depressed sort of way. as it were. Especially my pater. He was not really listening. "What's up?" "Then you'd say. you know. They might all be out. what would your people say if you got sacked?" "All sorts of things. and wait. and they'd say 'Hullo!'" Jellicoe. Why?" "Oh.

Jackson!" "Well?" "I say. He had some virtues and a good many defects. Here was a youth who had borrowed a pound from one friend the day before. though people whom he liked ." "Whose sisters?" "Yours."Me--Jellicoe. But it's jolly serious." "Any _what_?" "Sisters. he was just ordinary. look out." said Jellicoe eagerly." "What about them?" The conversation was becoming too intricate for Jellicoe. He was as obstinate as a mule. you don't know any one who could lend me a pound. "I say. and three pounds from another friend that very afternoon." "Did you say you wanted some one to lend you a quid?" "Yes." "What's up?" "I asked you if you'd got any sisters. He changed the subject. I asked if you'd got any. where he was a natural genius. Was it a hobby. "Do you know any one?" Mike's head throbbed. You'll wake Smith. The human brain could not be expected to cope with it." "Any what?" "Sisters. He resembled ninety per cent. or was he saving up to buy an aeroplane? "What on earth do you want a pound for?" "I don't want to tell anybody. As the Blue-Eyed Hero he would have been a rank failure. Those who have followed Mike's career as set forth by the present historian will have realised by this time that he was a good long way from being perfect. This thing was too much. "Do _what_?" "I say." Mike pondered. Except on the cricket field. sitting up in bed and staring through the darkness in the direction whence the numismatist's voice was proceeding. I shall get sacked if I don't get it. of other members of English public schools. already looking about him for further loans. do you?" "What!" cried Mike.

but on occasion his temper could be of the worst. but he did not make a fuss on ordinary occasions when his bowling proved expensive. which made the matter worse. it had to be done. And when he set himself to do this. As Psmith had said. It was a particularly fine day. where the issue concerned only himself. though it seemed to please Jellicoe. in his childhood. one good quality without any defect to balance it. Young blood had been shed overnight. One side does not keep another in the field the whole day in a one-day match except as a grisly kind of practical joke. however. and had. It stood forth without disguise as a deliberate rag. stood in a class by itself. who had a sensitive ear. and more flowed during the eleven o'clock interval that morning to avenge the insult. asked as a favour that these farm-yard imitations might cease until he was out of the room. but. There were other things to make Mike low-spirited that morning. Mr. been the subject of much adverse comment among his aunts. It was a wrench. Mr. he was never put off by discomfort or risk. Bob's postal order. To begin with. The great match had not been an ordinary match. if the situation was so serious with Jellicoe. till Psmith. was reposing in the breast-pocket of his coat. It seemed to him that the creaking of his joints as he walked must be audible to every one within a radius of several yards. which in itself is enough to spoil a day. Where it was a case of saving a friend. he had never felt stiffer in his life. That would probably be unpleasant. The thought depressed him. He went at the thing with a singleness of purpose that asked no questions. Downing was a curious man in many ways. and abusive and pugnacious as regards the juniors. Downing was the sort of master who would be likely to make trouble. there was the interview with Mr. for the latter carolled in a gay undertone as he dressed. He was rigidly truthful. He was always ready to help people. In addition to this. in addition. Yesterday's performance. and a painfully vivid recollection of handing over the bulk of his worldly wealth to him. Downing to come. The house's way of signifying its comprehension of the fact was to be cold and distant as far as the seniors were concerned. which had arrived that evening. and the postal order had moved from one side of the dormitory to the other. CHAPTER XLII JELLICOE GOES ON THE SICK-LIST Mike woke next morning with a confused memory of having listened to a great deal of incoherent conversation from Jellicoe. And Mr. he was prepared to act in a manner reminiscent of an American expert witness. * * * * * Two minutes later the night was being made hideous by Jellicoe's almost tearful protestations of gratitude. he was in detention. . He had. Finally. He was good-natured as a general thing.could do as they pleased with him. Downing and his house realised this.

You must--who is that shuffling his feet? I will not have it. and abruptly concluded his remarks by putting Mike on to translate in Cicero. sir. I have spoken of this before. * * * * * The Old Boys' match was timed to begin shortly after eleven o'clock. the rapier had given place to the bludgeon. when masters waxed sarcastic towards him. Downing came down from the heights with a run." Instant departure of Parsons for the outer regions. Which Mike. No. did with much success. It would be too commonplace altogether. in their experience of the orator. in the excitement of this side-issue. sir. But this sort of thing is difficult to keep up. "No. he began in a sarcastic strain. the user of it must be met half-way. Just as. no.Mr. who had left at Christmas to go to a crammer's. the skipper. had introduced three lively grass-snakes into the room during a Latin lesson." concluded Mr. at sea. Macpherson. Mr." "Well. and began to express himself with a simple strength which it did his form good to listen to. For sarcasm to be effective. snapping his pencil in two in his emotion. of necessity. always assumed an air of stolid stupidity. that prince of raggers. which was as a suit of mail against satire. I _will_ have silence--you must hang back in order to make a more effective entrance. but Mike did not doubt that in some way or other his form-master would endeavour to get a bit of his own back. Veterans who had been in the form for terms said afterwards that there had been nothing to touch it. you must conceal your capabilities. and savage him as if he were the official representative of the evildoers. "You are surrounded. You must act a lie. Downing laughed bitterly. Far too commonplace!" Mr. His hearer must appear to be conscious of the sarcasm and moved by it. When a master has got his knife into a boy. more elusive. That is to say. especially a master who allows himself to be influenced by his likes and dislikes. And. As events turned out. he is inclined to single him out in times of stress. sir. Downing's methods of retaliation would have to be. So Mr. Downing was in a sarcastic mood when he met Mike. "by an impenetrable mass of conceit and vanity and selfishness. straightforward way and place them at the disposal of the school. who happened to have prepared the first half-page. works it off on the boy. Downing. he was perfectly right. During the interval most of the school walked across the field to look . By the time he had reached his peroration." "Please. like some wretched actor who--I will _not_ have this shuffling. since the glorious day when Dunster. when he has trouble with the crew. It does not occur to you to admit your capabilities as a cricketer in an open. that would not be dramatic enough for you. Mike. the speaker lost his inspiration. Parsons?" "I think it's the noise of the draught under the door. are you shuffling your feet?" "Sir.

Mike watched them start and then turned to go in. Half-way across the field Jellicoe joined him. is not a little confusing. zeal outrunning discretion. but is not much protection against a skimming drive along the ground. you know. As Mike and Jellicoe proceeded on their way. Dunster advancing with a sort of polka step. "You'd better get over to the house and have it looked at. This is an excellent plan if the ball is falling. It was through one of these batsmen that an accident occurred which had a good deal of influence on Mike's affairs. He uttered a yell and sprang into the air. Can you walk?" Jellicoe tried. Hurt?" Jellicoe was pressing the injured spot tenderly with his finger-tips. He helped the sufferer to his feet and they staggered off together. there was a shout of "Heads!" The almost universal habit of batsmen of shouting "Heads!" at whatever height from the ground the ball may be. . as they crossed the field. Jellicoe was the first to abandon it. with the faint beginnings of a moustache and a blazer that lit up the surrounding landscape like a glowing beacon." said Mike. on hearing the shout. a long youth." "It's swelling up rather. Jellicoe hopping. was lashing out recklessly at a friend's bowling. "Awfully sorry. "or I'd have helped you over. But I did yell. crouches down and trusts to the pitch. Dunster. Already he had gone within an ace of slaying a small boy. When "Heads!" was called on the present occasion. he prodded himself too energetically. After which he sat down and began to nurse his ankle." "Awfully sorry. The bright-blazered youth walked up. Mike and Jellicoe instantly assumed the crouching attitude. Jellicoe was cheerful." said Mike. man. "I shall have to be going in. "slamming about like that. and rather embarrassingly grateful. One or two of the Old Boys had already changed and were practising in front of the pavilion. To their left. Mike had strolled out by himself." "I'll give you a hand. puts his hands over his skull. He was just in the middle of his harangue when the accident happened. The average person. "Silly ass." he groaned. uttering sharp howls whenever. but sat down again with a loud "Ow!" At that moment the bell rang." said Dunster.

pained." "I heard about yesterday. fondling the beginnings of his moustache." said Dunster. One feels as if one were entering a new and very delightful world." said Psmith." "Alas." said Dunster. sir--Adair's bowling is perfectly simple if you go out to it. Mike. I notice." said Psmith. of whom you have course of your dabblings in the classics. He stopped and watched an over of Adair's." "What it really wants is top-dressing with guano. and turning. Everything seems to have gone on and left one behind. Well hit. Have a cherry?--take one or two. as he walked to the cricket field. the darling of the crew. I have just been hearing the melancholy details. Restore your tissues. "heaps of people tell me I ought to have it waxed. "A joyful occasion tinged with melancholy. "Is your name Jackson?" inquired Dunster. "You needn't be a funny ass. I was a life-like representation of the faithful "You still jaw as much as ever. "because Jellicoe wants to see you." said Dunster. and that is that it is very pleasant to come out of.CHAPTER XLIII MIKE RECEIVES A COMMISSION There is only one thing to be said in favour of detention on a fine summer's afternoon. Before he got there he heard his name called. Adair's bowling better to-day than he did yesterday." sighed Psmith. eyeing the other's manoeuvres with interest. faithful below he did his duty. Is anything irritating you?" he added. Comrade Jackson. The fifth ball bowled a man. These little acts of unremembered kindness are what one needs after a couple of hours in extra pupil-room. There is also a touch of the Rip van Winkle feeling. "It must have been a rag! Couldn't we work off some other rag on somebody before I go? I shall be stopping here till Monday in the village. poor Jellicoe!" said Psmith. I'd no idea I should find him here. found Psmith seated under a tree with the bright-blazered Dunster. apply again. Hullo! another man out." stirring sight when we met. Mike made his way towards the pavilion. "Return of the exile. Arriving on the field he found the Old Boys batting. Dunster gave dawg. "were at a private school together. "More. and when you have finished those. "more." said the animal delineator. felt very much behind the times. The sun never seems so bright or the turf so green as during the first five minutes after one has come out of the detention-room." ." "Old Smith and I." "It was a wonderfully unlike the meeting of doubtless read in the Ulysses. man. "He is now prone on his bed in the dormitory--there a sheer hulk lies poor Tom Jellicoe. but Comrade Dunster has broached him to. "not Ulysses and the hound Argos.

I like to feel that I am doing good." "Has he?" said Psmith. "it's too late. Archaeology claims so much of my time that I have little leisure for listening to cricket chit-chat. "I say." said Jellicoe gloomily. at last. it'll keep till tea-time. He went over to the house and made his way to the dormitory. You stay where you are--don't interrupt too much. I shall get sacked. you might have come before!" said Jellicoe." said Psmith. Hamlet had got it. where he found the injured one in a parlous state. do you?" he said. "I mean. The doctor had seen his ankle and reported that it would be on the active list in a couple of days. Well it was like this--Hullo! We're all out--I shall have to be going out to field again. he felt disinclined for exertion." Mike tilted his hat over his eyes and abandoned Jellicoe. it's no catch having to sweat across to the house now. "What's up? I didn't know there was such a hurry about it--what did you want?" "It's no good now. It was not until the lock-up bell rang that he remembered him. It was Jellicoe's mind that needed attention now. but probably only after years of patient practice. man." "Don't dream of moving." said Psmith." "What was it Jellicoe wanted?" asked Mike. "Oh! chuck it. Mike stretched himself." said Psmith to Mike. I suppose."Comrade Dunster went out to it first ball. Mike found him in a condition bordering on collapse.C. not so much physical as mental." "I fear Comrade Jellicoe is a bit of a weak-minded blitherer----" "Did you ever hear of a rag we worked off on Jellicoe once?" asked Dunster. I need some one to listen when I talk. "I don't suppose it's anything special about Jellicoe. "The man has absolutely no sense of humour--can't see when he's being rotted. dash it! I'll tell you when I see you again. the sun was very soothing after his two hours in the detention-room. Soliloquy is a knack." "What on earth are you talking about? What's the row?" . "I hadn't heard. "I have several rather profound observations on life to make and I can't make them without an audience. "was it anything important?" "He seemed to think so--he kept telling me to tell you to go and see him." "I shall count the minutes. the sun was in my eyes. I hear Adair's got a match on with the M. Personally.C.

do you know it?" "Rather! I've been playing cricket for them all the term. Where do you want me to go?" "It's a place about a mile or two from here." Jellicoe sat up. do you think you could." The toad-under-the-harrow expression began to fade from Jellicoe's face. it's frightfully decent of you. only I got crocked. for some mysterious reason. I'll get out of the house after lights-out. has its comic man. called Lower Borlock. hang it!" he said." "I say. I'd no idea it was anything like that--what a fool I was! Dunster did say he thought it was something important. I was going to take the money to him this afternoon. Every village team. only like an ass I thought it would do if I came over at lock-up." "I say. "Oh." said Mike. stout man. so I couldn't move. I wanted to get hold of you to ask you to take it for me--it's too late now!" Mike's face fell." "Yes." "Who would catch me? There was a chap at Wrykyn I knew who used to break out every night nearly and go and pot at cats with an air-pistol. In the Lower Borlock eleven Mr. "it can't be helped." "Old Barley!" Mike knew the landlord of the "White Boar" well. really?" "Of course I can! It'll be rather a rag. it's as easy as anything. He was a large." "Lower Borlock?" "Yes. Barley filled the post. "I say." "What about it?" "I had to pay it to a man to-day. or he said he'd write to the Head--then of course I should get sacked."It's about that money." "He's the chap I owe the money to. who looked . look here." "It doesn't matter." said Jellicoe miserably. "I'm awfully sorry." "What absolute rot!" "But. he was the wag of the village team. are you certain----" "I shall be all right. "You can't! You'd get sacked if you were caught. it can. with a red and cheerful face. "I know what I'll do--it's all right. have you? Do you know a man called Barley?" "Barley? Rather--he runs the 'White Boar'.

I----" "Oh." "I say!" "Well?" "Don't tell Smith why you want it." "All right. "if I can get into the shed. as it might have saved him a good deal of inconvenience. It is pleasant to be out on a fine night in summer. five pounds is a large sum of money. Besides. but I had a key made to fit it last summer. Barley's doing everything he could to recover it." "I say. But he reflected that he had only seen him in when he might naturally be expected to unbend of human kindness.exactly like the jovial inn-keeper of melodrama. but it did not occur to him to ask. which was unfortunate. He took the envelope containing the money without question. because I used to go out in the early morning sometimes before it was opened. I think. "You can manage that. He was the last man Mike would have expected to do the "money by Monday-week or I write to the headmaster" business." "Got it on you?" "Smith's got it. "it's locked up at night." he said. I won't tell him. chuck it!" said Mike. "I shall bike there." said Jellicoe. there was nothing strange in Mr. pleasure is one thing and business his leisure moments. Probably in business hours After all. thanks most awfully! I don't know what I should have done. will you? I don't want anybody to know--if a thing once starts getting about it's all over the place in no time." The school's bicycles were stored in a shed by the pavilion. but the pleasure is to a certain extent modified when one feels that to be detected will mean . and if Jellicoe owed it. another. It seemed to him that it was none of his business to inquire into Jellicoe's private affairs. CHAPTER XLIV AND FULFILS IT Mike started on his ride to Lower Borlock with mixed feelings." "I'll get it from him. and be full of the milk he was quite different. He wondered a little what Jellicoe could have been doing to run up a bill as big as that.

The place was shut. He still harboured a feeling of resentment against the school in general and Adair in particular. Where with a private house you would probably have to wander round heaving rocks and end by climbing up a water-spout. there you are. but his inquiries as to why it was needed had been embarrassing. sir?" said the boots. and he liked playing cricket for Lower Borlock. Mike's statement that he wanted to get up early and have a ride had been received by Psmith. Now that he had grown used to the place he was enjoying himself at Sedleigh to a certain extent. and a German doctor says that early rising causes insanity. once said that a certain number of hours' sleep a day--I cannot recall for the moment how many--made a man something." said Psmith. Mike did not want to be expelled. 'ullo! Mr. which for the time being has slipped my memory. Still. but occasionally his foot came down like a steam-hammer.expulsion. is that a nocturnal visit is not so unexpected in the case of the former. So Mike pedalled along rapidly. sir!" Mike was well known to all dwellers in Lower Borlock. Psmith had yielded up the key. . The "White Boar" stood at the far end of the village. by the cricket field. from the point of view of the person who wants to get into it when it has been locked up. Mr. also. Mike would have been glad of a companion. with whom early rising was not a hobby. Probably he would have volunteered to come. he was fairly certain that his father would not let him go to Cambridge if he were expelled from Sedleigh. Preparations have been made to meet such an emergency. has that hard-worked menial up and doing in no time. The advantage an inn has over a private house. being wishful to get the job done without delay. his scores being the chief topic of conversation when the day's labours were over. with honest amazement and a flood of advice and warning on the subject. communicating with the boots' room. appearing in his shirt-sleeves. but it was pleasant in Outwood's now that he had got to know some of the members of the house. "Yes. "I forget which. I've given you the main idea of the thing. However. which. "Why. It did not take him long to reach Lower Borlock. Mike wished he could have taken Psmith into his confidence. "One of the Georges. until he came to the inn. of course. Jackson was easy-going with his family. too. Jackson. After Mike had waited for a few minutes there was a rattling of chains and a shooting of bolts and the door opened. when you want to get into an inn you simply ring the night-bell. if you're bent on it----" After which he had handed over the key. He rode past the church--standing out black and mysterious against the light sky--and the rows of silent cottages. and all the lights were out--it was some time past eleven. for many reasons. as witness the Wrykyn school report affair.

"You can pop off. For the life of him he could not see what there was to amuse any one so much in the fact that a person who owed five pounds was ready to pay it back. "I wish you would--it's a thing that can't wait. eyes-raised-to-heaven kind of rejoicing. Mr." "The money? What money?" "What he owes you. thankful. Jack." Mr. when this was finished he handed the letter to Mike. Barley. looking more than usually portly in a check dressing-gown and red bedroom slippers of the _Dreadnought_ type. of course. Can you get him down?" The boots looked doubtful."I want to see Mr. Then he collapsed into a chair. Mr. "oh dear! the five pounds!" Mike was not always abreast of the rustic idea of humour. . read it. "five pounds! They may teach you young gentlemen to talk Latin and Greek and what not at your school. Jackson. "Oh dear!" he said. "Dear. which creaked under him. Five minutes later mine host appeared in person. and now he felt particularly fogged. dear!" chuckled Mr. and had another attack. "Roust the guv'nor outer bed?" he said." "I must see him. hoping for light. if it's _that_--" said the boots. what's it all about?" "Jellicoe asked me to come and bring you the money. Barley stared open-mouthed at Mike for a moment. but rather for a solemn." "He's bin in bed this half-hour back." Exit boots to his slumbers once more. Jackson. It was an occasion for rejoicing." "Oh. and requested him to read it. Barley opened the letter." "The five--" Mr. and wiped his eyes. The landlord of the "White Boar" was one of those men who need a beauty sleep. "Well. Jack. Barley. perhaps. He staggered about laughing and coughing till Mike began to expect a fit of some kind. who was waiting patiently by. the five pounds. "Five pounds!" "You might tell us the joke. Mike quite admitted the gravity of the task. I've got some money to give to him. "What's up?" he asked. then he broke into a roar of laughter which shook the sporting prints on the wall and drew barks from dogs in some distant part of the house.

about 'ar parse five. It would have been cruel to damp the man. 'I'll have a game with Mr. love us! they don't do no harm! Bite up an old shoe sometimes and such sort of things. was more inclined to be abusive than mirthful. they are. finishing this curious document. Jane--she's the worst of the two. Aberdeen terriers. Love us!" Mr. Mischief! I believe you. "Why. Jellicoe over this. The other day. it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you to come in when it rained. * * * * * Mention has been made above of the difference which exists between getting into an inn after lock-up and into a private house." There was some more to the same effect. accepted a stone ginger beer and a plateful of biscuits. or if one chooses to run them for one's own amusement. I hope it is in time. and they got on the coffee-room table and ate half a cold chicken what had been left there. last Wednesday it were. because I don't want you to write to the headmaster. simply in order to satisfy Mr. Barley slapped his thigh. is another matter altogether. in contravention of all school rules and discipline. a position imperilling one's chance of going to the 'Varsity." It is not always easy to appreciate a joke of the practical order if one has been made even merely part victim of it. it 'ud do----" Mike was reading the letter. "DEAR MR. G. Mr. "he took it all in. Barley's sense of humour. Jellicoe keeps two dogs here. So Mike laughed perfunctorily. but to be placed in a dangerous position. and will he kindly remit same by Saturday night at the latest or I write to his headmaster.--"I send the £5. Barley slapped his leg." "What on earth's it all about?" said Mike. and the damage'll be five pounds. John upset a china vase in one of the bedrooms chasing a mouse. took back the envelope with the five pounds. Mike. But it is impossible to abuse the Barley type of man.but it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you how many beans make five. Mike was ." it ran. Probably it had given him the happiest quarter of an hour he had known for years. as he reflected that he had been dragged out of his house in the middle of the night. but. Barley's enjoyment of the whole thing was so honest and child-like. which I could not get before. she is--she got hold of my old hat and had it in bits before you could say knife. I keep 'em for him till the young gentlemen go home for their holidays. BARLEY. Running risks is all very well when they are necessary. every word--and here's the five pounds in cash in this envelope here! I haven't had such a laugh since we got old Tom Raxley out of bed at twelve of a winter's night by telling him his house was a-fire.' and I sits down and writes off saying the little dogs have eaten a valuable hat and a chicken and what not. the affair of old Tom Raxley. Mr. it was signed "T. since. Jellicoe. always up to it. in fact. I am sorry Jane and John ate your wife's hat and the chicken and broke the vase. and as sharp as mustard. and rode off on his return journey. So I says to myself.

and as he wheeled his machine in. after which he ran across to Outwood's. of which the house was the centre. Whereby Mike recognised him as the school sergeant. thus rendering exit and entrance almost as simple as they had been for Wyatt during Mike's first term at Wrykyn. He proceeded to scale this water-pipe. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was the exact remark. as Mike came to the ground. Mike felt easier in his mind. His first act on arriving at Sedleigh was to replace his bicycle in the shed. Sergeant Collard . There were two gates to Mr. The position then would have been that somebody in Mr. went out. that the voice had come. he saw a stout figure galloping towards him from that direction. Downing's house. and locked the door. however. With this knowledge. As he did so. One can never tell precisely how one will act in a sudden emergency. He had got about half-way up when a voice from somewhere below cried. It was extremely unlikely that anybody could have recognised him at night against the dark background of the house. and through the study window. of whom about fourteen were much the same size and build as Mike. his pursuer again gave tongue. Without waiting to discover what this might be. Outwood's front garden. Outwood's house had been seen breaking in after lights-out. his foot touched something on the floor. of the call caused Mike to lose his head. This he accomplished with success. The carriage drive ran in a semicircle. It was pitch-dark in the shed. Fortune had favoured his undertaking by decreeing that a stout drain-pipe should pass up the wall within a few inches of his and Psmith's find this out for himself. It was from the right-hand gate. he leaned his bicycle against the wall. nearest to Mr. The right thing for Mike to have done at this crisis was to have ignored the voice. On the first day of term. The suddenness. and gone to bed. and. There were thirty-four boys in Outwood's. it may be remembered he had wrenched away the wooden bar which bisected the window-frame. "Who's that?" CHAPTER XLV PURSUIT These things are Life's Little Difficulties. He made the strategic error of sliding rapidly down the pipe. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was that militant gentleman's habitual way of beginning a conversation. but it would have been very difficult for the authorities to have narrowed the search down any further than that. He bolted like a rabbit for the other gate. and running. carried on up the water-pipe.

till he reached the entrance to the school grounds. he was evidently possessed of a key. Jackson?" Mike recognised Adair's voice. Focussing his gaze. with the sergeant panting in his wake. Mike waited for several minutes behind his tree. Then the sound of footsteps returning." a mysterious gift which he exercised on the rifle range). Having arrived there. A sound of panting was borne to him. and started to stroll in the direction of the pavilion. but Time. The other appeared startled. increasing his girth. turned aside. if that was out of the question. . Like Mike. He began to feel that this was not such bad fun after all. Then he would trot softly back. His programme now was simple. He would give Sergeant Collard about half an hour. he sat on the steps. "Is that you. instead of making for the pavilion. he saw a dim figure moving rapidly across the cricket field straight for him. there was nothing to be gained from lurking behind a tree. It had just struck a quarter to something--twelve. His thoughts were miles away. for Mike heard it grate in the lock. "Who the dickens is that?" he asked. that he had been seen and followed. but. and stopped at the door of the bicycle shed. He left his cover. at Wrykyn. disappeared as the runner. Mike's attentive ear noted that the bright speech was a shade more puffily delivered this time. The fact that he ran to-night showed how the excitement of the chase had entered into his blood. The last person he would have expected to meet at midnight obviously on the point of going for a bicycle ride. taking things easily. When he moved now it was at a stately walk. He dashed in and took cover behind a tree. as Mike. he supposed--on the school clock. At this point he left the pavilion and hailed his fellow rambler by night in a cautious undertone. Meanwhile. in case the latter took it into his head to "guard home" by waiting at the gate. He would have liked to be in bed. He would wait till a quarter past. Mike heard him toil on for a few yards and then stop. (notably a talent for what he was wont to call "spott'n. The pursuer had given the thing up. Presently the sergeant turned the corner. when he was recalled to Sedleigh by the sound of somebody running. had taken from him the taste for such exercise. this time at a walk. but he could not run. shoot up the water-pipe once more. There had been a time in his hot youth when he had sprinted like an untamed mustang in pursuit of volatile Pathans in Indian hill wars. He ran on.was a man of many fine qualities. passing through the gate. going badly and evidently cured of a good deal of the fever of the chase. and so to bed. They passed the gate and went on down the road. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" he shouted again. looking out on to the cricket field. His first impression. turned into the road that led to the school. this was certainly the next best thing.

Most housemasters feel uneasy in the event of illness in their houses. After a moment's pause. sprinting lightly in the direction of home and safety. Adair?" The next moment Mr. But Mr. He had despatched Adair for the doctor. would not keep up the vigil for more than half an hour. at a range of about two yards. that MacPhee. two ices. Adair rode off. So long."What are you doing out here. All that was wrong with MacPhee." Mike turned away. an apple. One of the chaps in our house is bad. Downing was apt to get jumpy beyond the ordinary on such occasions. one of the junior members of Adair's dormitory. the direct and legitimate result of eating six buns. Downing saw in his attack the beginnings of some deadly scourge which would sweep through and decimate the house. It seemed to Mike that Sergeant Collard. was now standing at his front gate. therefore. with a cry of "Is that you. "I'm going for the doctor." "Hadn't you better be getting back?" "Plenty of time. after spending a few minutes prowling restlessly about his room. and." "Oh!" "What are you doing out here?" "Just been for a stroll. He would be safe now in trying for home again. conveyed to him by Adair. whistling between his teeth. was a very fair stomach-ache. even if he had started to wait for him at the house. was groaning and exhibiting other symptoms of acute illness." "I suppose you think you're doing something tremendously brave and dashing?" "Hadn't you better be going to the doctor?" "If you want to know what I think----" "I don't. that Mike. and Mr. and a pound of cherries. had his already shaken nerves further maltreated by being hailed. He was off like an . Mike stood not upon the order of his going. if it comes to that?" Adair was lighting his lamp. was disturbed in his mind. Mike saw his light pass across the field and through the gate. as a matter of fact. aroused from his first sleep by the news. waiting for Adair's return. and washing the lot down with tea. It came about. The school clock struck the quarter. half a cocoa-nut. Downing emerged from his gate. He walked in that direction. three doughnuts. Downing. Jackson?" "What are you. Now it happened that Mr.

arrow--a flying figure of Guilt. Mr. Downing, after the first surprise, seemed to grasp the situation. Ejaculating at intervals the words, "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" he dashed after the much-enduring Wrykynian at an extremely creditable rate of speed. Mr. Downing was by way of being a sprinter. He had won handicap events at College sports at Oxford, and, if Mike had not got such a good start, the race might have been over in the first fifty yards. As it was, that victim of Fate, going well, kept ahead. At the entrance to the school grounds he led by a dozen yards. The procession passed into the field, Mike heading as before for the pavilion. As they raced across the soft turf, an idea occurred to Mike which he was accustomed in after years to attribute to genius, the one flash of it which had ever illumined his life. It was this. One of Mr. Downing's first acts, on starting the Fire Brigade at Sedleigh, had been to institute an alarm bell. It had been rubbed into the school officially--in speeches from the daÃ‾s--by the headmaster, and unofficially--in earnest private conversations--by Mr. Downing, that at the sound of this bell, at whatever hour of day or night, every member of the school must leave his house in the quickest possible way, and make for the open. The bell might mean that the school was on fire, or it might mean that one of the houses was on fire. In any case, the school had its orders--to get out into the open at once. Nor must it be supposed that the school was without practice at this feat. Every now and then a notice would be found posted up on the board to the effect that there would be fire drill during the dinner hour that day. Sometimes the performance was bright and interesting, as on the occasion when Mr. Downing, marshalling the brigade at his front gate, had said, "My house is supposed to be on fire. Now let's do a record!" which the Brigade, headed by Stone and Robinson, obligingly did. They fastened the hose to the hydrant, smashed a window on the ground floor (Mr. Downing having retired for a moment to talk with the headmaster), and poured a stream of water into the room. When Mr. Downing was at liberty to turn his attention to the matter, he found that the room selected was his private study, most of the light furniture of which was floating on a miniature lake. That episode had rather discouraged his passion for realism, and fire drill since then had taken the form, for the most part, of "practising escaping." This was done by means of canvas shoots, kept in the dormitories. At the sound of the bell the prefect of the dormitory would heave one end of the shoot out of window, the other end being fastened to the sill. He would then go down it himself, using his elbows as a brake. Then the second man would follow his example, and these two, standing below, would hold the end of the shoot so that the rest of the dormitory could fly rapidly down it without injury, except to their digestions. After the first novelty of the thing had worn off, the school had taken a rooted dislike to fire drill. It was a matter for self-congratulation among them that Mr. Downing had never been able to induce the headmaster to allow the alarm bell to be sounded for fire drill at night. The headmaster, a man who had his views on the amount of sleep necessary for the growing boy, had drawn the line at night operations. "Sufficient unto the day" had been the gist of

his reply. If the alarm bell were to ring at night when there was no fire, the school might mistake a genuine alarm of fire for a bogus one, and refuse to hurry themselves. So Mr. Downing had had to be content with day drill. The alarm bell hung in the archway leading into the school grounds. The end of the rope, when not in use, was fastened to a hook half-way up the wall. Mike, as he raced over the cricket field, made up his mind in a flash that his only chance of getting out of this tangle was to shake his pursuer off for a space of time long enough to enable him to get to the rope and tug it. Then the school would come out. He would mix with them, and in the subsequent confusion get back to bed unnoticed. The task was easier than it would have seemed at the beginning of the chase. Mr. Downing, owing to the two facts that he was not in the strictest training, and that it is only an Alfred Shrubb who can run for any length of time at top speed shouting "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" was beginning to feel distressed. There were bellows to mend in the Downing camp. Mike perceived this, and forced the pace. He rounded the pavilion ten yards to the good. Then, heading for the gate, he put all he knew into one last sprint. Mr. Downing was not equal to the effort. He worked gamely for a few strides, then fell behind. When Mike reached the gate, a good forty yards separated them. As far as Mike could judge--he was not in a condition to make nice calculations--he had about four seconds in which to get busy with that bell rope. Probably nobody has ever crammed more energetic work into four seconds than he did then. The night was as still as only an English summer night can be, and the first clang of the clapper sounded like a million iron girders falling from a height on to a sheet of tin. He tugged away furiously, with an eye on the now rapidly advancing and loudly shouting figure of the housemaster. And from the darkened house beyond there came a gradually swelling hum, as if a vast hive of bees had been disturbed. The school was awake.

CHAPTER XLVI THE DECORATION OF SAMMY Smith leaned against the mantelpiece in the senior day-room at Outwood's--since Mike's innings against Downing's the Lost Lambs had been received as brothers by that centre of disorder, so that even Spiller was compelled to look on the hatchet as buried--and gave his views on the events of the preceding night, or, rather, of that morning, for it was nearer one than twelve when peace had once more fallen on the school.

"Nothing that happens in this luny-bin," said Psmith, "has power to surprise me now. There was a time when I might have thought it a little unusual to have to leave the house through a canvas shoot at one o'clock in the morning, but I suppose it's quite the regular thing here. Old school tradition, &c. Men leave the school, and find that they've got so accustomed to jumping out of window that they look on it as a sort of affectation to go out by the door. I suppose none of you merchants can give me any idea when the next knockabout entertainment of this kind is likely to take place?" "I wonder who rang that bell!" said Stone. "Jolly sporting idea." "I believe it was Downing himself. If it was, I hope he's satisfied." Jellicoe, who was appearing in society supported by a stick, looked meaningly at Mike, and giggled, receiving in answer a stony stare. Mike had informed Jellicoe of the details of his interview with Mr. Barley at the "White Boar," and Jellicoe, after a momentary splutter of wrath against the practical joker, was now in a particularly light-hearted mood. He hobbled about, giggling at nothing and at peace with all the world. "It was a stirring scene," said Psmith. "The agility with which Comrade Jellicoe boosted himself down the shoot was a triumph of mind over matter. He seemed to forget his ankle. It was the nearest thing to a Boneless Acrobatic Wonder that I have ever seen." "I was in a beastly funk, I can tell you." Stone gurgled. "So was I," he said, "for a bit. Then, when I saw that it was all a rag, I began to look about for ways of doing the thing really well. I emptied about six jugs of water on a gang of kids under my window." "I rushed into Downing's, and ragged some of the beds," said Robinson. "It was an invigorating time," said Psmith. "A sort of pageant. I was particularly struck with the way some of the bright lads caught hold of the idea. There was no skimping. Some of the kids, to my certain knowledge, went down the shoot a dozen times. There's nothing like doing a thing thoroughly. I saw them come down, rush upstairs, and be saved again, time after time. The thing became chronic with them. I should say Comrade Downing ought to be satisfied with the high state of efficiency to which he has brought us. At any rate I hope----" There was a sound of hurried footsteps outside the door, and Sharpe, a member of the senior day-room, burst excitedly in. He seemed amused. "I say, have you chaps seen Sammy?" "Seen who?" said Stone. "Sammy? Why?" "You'll know in a second. He's just outside. Here, Sammy, Sammy, Sammy! Sam! Sam!" A bark and a patter of feet outside. "Come on, Sammy. Good dog."

There was a moment's silence. Then a great yell of laughter burst forth. Even Psmith's massive calm was shattered. As for Jellicoe, he sobbed in a corner. Sammy's beautiful white coat was almost entirely concealed by a thick covering of bright red paint. His head, with the exception of the ears, was untouched, and his serious, friendly eyes seemed to emphasise the weirdness of his appearance. He stood in the doorway, barking and wagging his tail, plainly puzzled at his reception. He was a popular dog, and was always well received when he visited any of the houses, but he had never before met with enthusiasm like this. "Good old Sammy!" "What on earth's been happening to him?" "Who did it?" Sharpe, the introducer, had no views on the matter. "I found him outside Downing's, with a crowd round him. Everybody seems to have seen him. I wonder who on earth has gone and mucked him up like that!" Mike was the first to show any sympathy for the maltreated animal. "Poor old Sammy," he said, kneeling on the floor beside the victim, and scratching him under the ear. "What a beastly shame! It'll take hours to wash all that off him, and he'll hate it." "It seems to me," said Psmith, regarding Sammy dispassionately through his eyeglass, "that it's not a case for mere washing. They'll either have to skin him bodily, or leave the thing to time. Time, the Great Healer. In a year or two he'll fade to a delicate pink. I don't see why you shouldn't have a pink bull-terrier. It would lend a touch of distinction to the place. Crowds would come in excursion trains to see him. By charging a small fee you might make him self-supporting. I think I'll suggest it to Comrade Downing." "There'll be a row about this," said Stone. "Rows are rather sport when you're not mixed up in them," said Robinson, philosophically. "There'll be another if we don't start off for chapel soon. It's a quarter to." There was a general move. Mike was the last to leave the room. As he was going, Jellicoe stopped him. Jellicoe was staying in that Sunday, owing to his ankle. "I say," said Jellicoe, "I just wanted to thank you again about that----" "Oh, that's all right." "No, but it really was awfully decent of you. You might have got into a frightful row. Were you nearly caught?" "Jolly nearly."

"It _was_ you who rang the bell, wasn't it?" "Yes, it was. But for goodness sake don't go gassing about it, or somebody will get to hear who oughtn't to, and I shall be sacked." "All right. But, I say, you _are_ a chap!" "What's the matter now?" "I mean about Sammy, you know. It's a jolly good score off old Downing. He'll be frightfully sick." "Sammy!" cried Mike. "My good man, you don't think I did that, do you? What absolute rot! I never touched the poor brute." "Oh, all right," said Jellicoe. "But I wasn't going to tell any one, of course." "What do you mean?" "You _are_ a chap!" giggled Jellicoe. Mike walked to chapel rather thoughtfully.

CHAPTER XLVII MR. DOWNING ON THE SCENT There was just one moment, the moment in which, on going down to the junior day-room of his house to quell an unseemly disturbance, he was boisterously greeted by a vermilion bull terrier, when Mr. Downing was seized with a hideous fear lest he had lost his senses. Glaring down at the crimson animal that was pawing at his knees, he clutched at his reason for one second as a drowning man clutches at a lifebelt. Then the happy laughter of the young onlookers reassured him. "Who--" he shouted, "WHO has done this?" [Illustration: "WHO--" HE SHOUTED, "WHO HAS DONE THIS?"] "Please, sir, we don't know," shrilled the chorus. "Please, sir, he came in like that." "Please, sir, we were sitting here when he suddenly ran in, all red." A voice from the crowd: "Look at old Sammy!" The situation was impossible. There was nothing to be done. He could not find out by verbal inquiry who had painted the dog. The possibility of Sammy being painted red during the night had never occurred to Mr. Downing, and now that the thing had happened he had no scheme of action. As Psmith would have said, he had confused the unusual with the impossible, and the result was that he was taken by surprise.

Downing was too angry to see anything humorous in the incident. taking advantage of the door being open. Since the previous night he had been wounded in his tenderest feelings. but thawed as the latter related the events which had led up to the ringing of the bell. "One of the boys at the school. and also a rooted conviction that Mr. in spite of his strict orders. It was not his . Downing." Mr. and his dog had been held up to ridicule to all the world.While he was pondering on this the situation was rendered still more difficult by Sammy. did want to smile. thus publishing his condition to all and sundry. The headmaster. He had a cold in the head. you say?" "Very big. no. he went straight to the headmaster. escaped and rushed into the road. "Dear me!" he said. Downing's next move was in the same direction that Sammy had taken." said Mr." "You did not see his face?" "It was dark and he never looked back--he was in front of me all the time." "No. Downing. had done something before he rang the bell--he had painted my dog Sampson red. Mr. He received the housemaster frostily. you think?" "I am certain of it. Mr. I suppose not. "He--he--_what_. only. whoever he was." The headmaster's eyes protruded from their sockets." "Dear me!" "There is another matter----" "Yes?" "This boy. A boy who breaks out of his house at night would hardly run the risk of wearing a distinguishing cap. had rung the bell himself on the previous night in order to test the efficiency of the school in saving themselves in the event of fire. instead of running about the road. he wanted revenge. "Was he wearing a school cap?" "He was bare-headed. A big boy. You can hush up a painted dog while it confines itself to your own premises. who. was not in the best of tempers. He did not want to smile. Sammy's state advanced from a private trouble into a row. who had had to leave his house in the small hours in his pyjamas and a dressing-gown. on the other hand. The Head. Downing?" "He painted my dog red--bright red. deeply interested. but once it has mixed with the great public this becomes out of the question. His Fire Brigade system had been most shamefully abused by being turned into a mere instrument in the hands of a malefactor for escaping justice.

quite impossible! I went round the dormitories as usual at eleven o'clock last night. Mr. suddenly reminded of Sammy's appearance by the headmaster's words. and was instantly awarded two hundred lines. It was only . "Quite so! Quite so!" said the headmaster hastily. "It is a scandalous thing!" said Mr. Outwood. unidentified. and passed it on to Mr. I gather from the sergeant that he interrupted him before----" "I mean he must have been one of the boys in your house. Downing. "Then the boy was in your house!" exclaimed Mr." "Impossible. Instead of having to hunt for a needle in a haystack. attempting to get into his house _via_ the water-pipe. not to mention cromlechs. "Not actually in." "But what was he doing out at that hour?" "He had broken out. he would have to discover him for himself." Mr. He had a clue! Now that the search had narrowed itself down to Outwood's house. but without result. Sergeant Collard had waylaid the archaeological expert on his way to chapel. It was Mr. whose thoughts were occupied with apses and plinths. he could look on the affair with an unbiased eye. Perhaps Sergeant Collard had actually recognised the boy. had seen. The school filed out of the Hall to their various lunches. who. feeling perhaps that it had been a little hard upon Mr. and all the boys were asleep--all of them. and informed him that at close on twelve the night before he had observed a youth. He was in a state of suppressed excitement and exultation which made it hard for him to attend to his colleague's slow utterances. and to him there was something ludicrous in a white dog suddenly appearing as a red dog. Oh yes. thanked the sergeant with absent-minded politeness and passed on. for the sergeant would scarcely have kept a thing like that to himself. Downing. but he might very well have seen more of him than he. Downing was left with the conviction that. and Fate. gave him a most magnificent start. and Mr. I think. Or reflection he dismissed this as unlikely. I will speak to the school in the Hall after chapel. the rest was comparatively easy. The great thing in affairs of this kind is to get a good start. he found himself in a moment in the position of being set to find it in a mere truss of straw. "I shall punish the boy who did it most severely. Downing. Downing.. A cordial invitation to the criminal to come forward and be executed was received in wooden silence by the school. with the exception of Johnson III. Downing was not listening. Downing as they walked back to lunch. Later he remembered the fact _À propos_ of some reflections on the subject of burglars in mediaeval England. Outwood who helped him. of Outwood's. as far as I at the time." Which he did. broke into a wild screech of laughter. if he wanted the criminal discovered.

sir. Dinner was just over when Mr. Feeflee good at spottin'. Having requested his host to smoke. and leaving the house lunch to look after itself. in order to ensure privacy. Sunday lunch at a public-school house is probably one of the longest functions in existence. after sitting still and eyeing with acute dislike everybody who asked for a second helping." "Did you notice anything at all about his appearance?" "'E was a long young chap. sir." he said. what yer doin' there?'" "Yes?" "But 'e was off in a flash. as a blind man could have told. He resolved to go the moment that meal was at an end. Dook of Connaught. sir--spotted 'im. but it finishes in time. sergeant?" "No. found himself at liberty." "Ah!" .' he used to say. ''e's feeflee good at spottin'. Downing. In due course Mr. The sergeant received his visitor with dignity. who were torpid after roast beef and resented having to move. he rushed forth on the trail. Regardless of the claims of digestion. Downing arrived. you saw a boy endeavouring to enter his house.with an effort that he could keep himself from rushing to the sergeant then and there. "I did. yer. sergeant. It drags its slow length along like a languid snake. and I doubles after 'im prompt. Downing stated his case. Oo-oo-oo." The sergeant blew a cloud of smoke." admitted the sergeant reluctantly. Mr. sir. "tells me that last night. sir. sir. he used to say. "Oo-oo-oo. which the latter was about to do unasked. 'e was doublin' away in the opposite direction. with a pair of legs on him--feeflee fast 'e run. feeflee!" "You noticed nothing else?" "'E wasn't wearing no cap of any sort. Outwood.'" "What did you do?" "Do? Oo-oo-oo! I shouts 'Oo-oo-oo yer. ''Ere comes Sergeant Collard." "But you didn't catch him?" "No. ejecting the family. I did. "Mr. * * * * * Sergeant Collard lived with his wife and a family of unknown dimensions in the lodge at the school front gate. "Did you catch sight of his face. I am." he said. yer young monkey. sir.

is it not?" "Feeflee warm." "I hope not. sir. "I will find my way out. Downing went out into the baking sunlight. success in the province of detective work must always be. with a label attached. to a very large extent. but it was a dark night." he said. you think?" "Oo-oo-oo! Wouldn't go so far as to say that. "Well. . sir. The school plays the M. if he persisted in making so much noise." "So do I.C. sir. and exhibited clearly. Good afternoon. "Good-afternoon."Bare-'eaded. sir. and it would be a pity if rain were to spoil our first fixture with them." "You would not be able to recognise him again if you saw him. But Doctor Watson has got to have it taken out for him." "Pray do not move. on Wednesday. sergeant. and slept the sleep of the just. and furthermore to give young Ernie a clip side of the 'ead.C. as opposed to the Sherlock Holmeses. sergeant." The sergeant had not shown the slightest inclination of doing anything of the kind. rubbing the point in. weather's goin' to break--workin' up for thunder. considerably! It is certain that the boy was one of the boys in Mr. sergeant. rested his feet on the table." "Good-afternoon to you. "the search is now considerably narrowed down. undoubtedly! I wish you could have caught a glimpse of his face. I'm feeflee good at spottin'. CHAPTER XLVIII THE SLEUTH-HOUND For the Doctor Watsons of this world." Mr. sir. having requested Mrs. Downing rose to go. the result of luck." added the sergeant. while Sergeant Collard. Collard to take the children out for a walk at once. Sherlock Holmes can extract a clue from a wisp of straw or a flake of cigar-ash. "It was undoubtedly the same boy. and dusted." "Young monkeys!" interjected the sergeant helpfully. Outwood's house. Very hot to-day." And Mr. 'cos yer see. put a handkerchief over his face.

but how was he to get any farther? That was the thing. but. how--?" and all the rest of it. Watson increased with every minute. All these things passed through Mr. Outwood's house. when Fate once more intervened. But if ever the emergency does arise. and leaves the next move to you. What he wanted was a clue. Mr. shouting to him to pick them up. requested that way peculiar to some boys. now that he had started to handle his own first case. "Either you or Jones were out of your house last night at twelve o'clock. We are wont to scoff in a patronising manner at that humble follower of the great investigator. Downing's mind as he walked up and down the cricket field that afternoon. and he began to feel a certain resentment against Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. the air of one who has been caught particularly shady. a junior member of his house. We should not even have risen to the modest level of a Scotland Yard Bungler. It is not often that the ordinary person has any need to see what he can do in the way of detection. just as the downtrodden medico did. There were." the boy does not reply." He simply assumes the animated expression of a stuffed fish. to detect anybody. I cannot tell a lie--I was out of my house last night at twelve o'clock. It is practically Stalemate. only a limited number of boys in Mr. if he only knew. tight-lipped smiles. of course. What with the oppressive heat of the day and the fatigue of hard thinking. It certainly was uncommonly hard. even and. there were clues lying all over the place. As he brooded over the case in hand. We should simply have hung around. it would have complicated matters. He gets along very comfortably in the humdrum round of life without having to measure footprints and smile quiet. this time in the shape of Riglett. having capped Mr. he thought. But it is so hard for the novice to tell what is a clue and what isn't. Downing had read all the Holmes stories with great attention. Riglett slunk up in the shamefaced when they have done nothing wrong. and had thought many times what an incompetent ass Doctor Watson was. Probably.The average man is a Doctor Watson. and his methods. we should have been just as dull ourselves. Mr. "Sir. but he knew perfectly well who had done the thing before he started! Now that he began really to look into this matter of the alarm bell and the painting of Sammy. Downing was working up for a brain-storm. but even if there had been only one other. the conviction was creeping over him that the problem was more difficult than a casual observer might imagine. Outwood's house as tall as the one he had pursued. he thinks naturally of Sherlock Holmes. as a matter of fact. unless you knew who had really done the crime. If you go to a boy and say. It was all very well for Sir Arthur to be so shrewd and infallible about tracing a mystery to its source. his sympathy for Dr. Downing with in the act of doing something he might be allowed to fetch his . he was compelled to admit that there was a good deal to be said in extenuation of Watson's inability to unravel tangles. as he paced the cricket field after leaving Sergeant Collard. but. saying: "My dear Holmes. He had got as far as finding that his quarry of the previous night was a boy in Mr.

Red paint. leaving Mr. Watson a fair start. then on his right. Much thinking had made him irritable. The greater part of the flooring in the neighbourhood of the door was a sea of red paint. Riglett had an aunt resident about three miles from the school. Riglett. and finally remarked. Downing. The tin from which it had flowed was lying on its side in the middle of the shed. he saw the clue. but did not immediately recognise it for what it was. his brain fizzing with the enthusiasm of the detective. Then suddenly. Downing's brain was now working with a rapidity and clearness which a professional sleuth might have envied. walking delicately through dry places. whom he was accustomed to visit occasionally on Sunday afternoons during the term. Mr. Downing. And this was a particularly messy mess. A foot-mark! No less. that he had got leave for tea that afternoon. "Pah!" said Mr. "Get your bicycle. Watson could not have overlooked. Yoicks! There were two things. The air was full of the pungent scent. Paint. Whose foot-mark? Plainly that of the criminal who had done the deed of decoration. Riglett shambling behind at an interval of two yards. blushed. He felt for his bunch of keys. Downing remembered. "What do you want with your bicycle?" Riglett shuffled. Obviously the same paint with which Sammy had been decorated. In the first place." he said. the paint might have been upset by the ground-man. Mr. and made his way to the shed. who had been waiting patiently two yards away. "Your bicycle?" snapped Mr. but just a mess. Downing to mundane matters. as if it were not so much a sound reason as a sort of feeble excuse for the low and blackguardly fact that he wanted his bicycle. to be considered. Downing. Then Mr. Mr." Riglett. stood first on his left foot. It was the ground-man's paint. beneath the disguise of the mess. and there on the floor was the Clue! A clue that even Dr. A foot-mark. He had been giving a fresh coating to the wood-work in front of . Downing saw it. Downing unlocked the door. now coughed plaintively. however. "and be careful where you tread. Your careful detective must consider everything. What he saw at first was not a Clue. The sound recalled Mr. Give Dr. and he is a demon at the game. Somebody has upset a pot of paint on the floor. He had a tidy soul and abhorred messes. A crimson foot-mark on the grey concrete! Riglett.bicycle from the shed. and presently departed to gladden the heart of his aunt. extracted his bicycle from the rack. to lock the door and resume his perambulation of the cricket field.

Things were moving. for it would have been dark in the shed when Adair went into it. He could get the ground-man's address from him. don't get up. Oh. but I could show you in a second. Quite so. I wondered whether you had happened to tread in it. There's a barn just before you get to them. * * * * * He resolved to take Adair first. This was the more probable of the two contingencies. His is the first you come to. His book had been interesting. sir. sir. I didn't go into the shed at all. sir. I merely wished to ask you if you found any paint on your boots when you returned to the house last night?" "Paint. Adair. Adair. on the right as you turn out into the road. when you went to fetch your bicycle?" "No. I suppose." "It is spilt all over the floor. _Note two_ Interview Adair as to whether he found. my bicycle is always quite near the door of the shed." "Thank you." "I see. "I see somebody has spilt some paint on the floor of the bicycle shed. But you say you found no paint on your boots this morning?" "No. on returning to the house. (A labour of love which was the direct outcome of the enthusiasm for work which Adair had instilled into him. I should like to speak to Markby for a moment on a small matter." he said. It's one of those cottages just past the school gates. sir?" Adair was plainly puzzled.the pavilion scoring-box at the conclusion of yesterday's match. You did not do that. In the second place Adair might have upset the tin and trodden in its contents when he went to get his bicycle in order to fetch the doctor for the suffering MacPhee.) In that case the foot-mark might be his. Thank you. There are three in a row." A sharp walk took him to the cottages Adair had mentioned. _Note one_: Interview the ground-man on this point. Passing by the trees under whose shade Mike and Psmith and Dunster had watched the match on the previous day. he came upon the Head of his house in a deck-chair reading a book. I shall be able to find them. A summer Sunday afternoon is the time for reading in deck-chairs. where does Markby live?" "I forget the name of his cottage. Adair. He rapped at the door of the first. "No. and had driven the Sammy incident out of his head. and the ground-man came out in . "Oh. by the way. that there was paint on his boots.

The fact is. The only other possible theories had been tested and successfully exploded. sir. so that the boot would not yet have been cleaned. Regardless of the heat. The young gentlemen will scramble about and get through the window. It was Sunday. sir?" "No. sir.his shirt-sleeves. A boy cannot tread in a pool of paint without showing some signs of having done so. There could be no doubt that a paint-splashed boot must be in Mr." "On the floor?" "On the floor. blinking as if he had just woke up. Markby. what did you do with the pot of paint when you had finished?" "Put it in the bicycle shed." "Of course. Just as I thought. Tell me. CHAPTER XLIX A CHECK . Downing walked back to the school thoroughly excited. thank you. Quite so. That is all I wished to know. Outwood's house--the idea of searching a fellow-master's house did not appear to him at all a delicate task. Markby. too. You had better get some more to-morrow. no. The thing had become simple to a degree." "Do you want it. with the result that it has been kicked over. sir. and spilt. Yoicks! Also Tally-ho! This really was beginning to be something like business. Markby. ascertain its owner. thank you. On the shelf at the far end. sir. An excellent idea. and denounce him to the headmaster. "Oh. yes. Markby!" "Sir?" "You remember that you were painting the scoring-box in the pavilion last night after the match?" "Yes. So I thought I'd better give it a coating so as to look ship-shape when the Marylebone come down. sir? No. the sleuth-hound hurried across to Outwood's as fast as he could walk. Outwood did not really exist as a man capable of resenting liberties--find the paint-splashed boot. Makes it look shabby. It wanted a lick of paint bad. Outwood's house somewhere. as was indeed the case." Mr. Picture. with the can of whitening what I use for marking out the wickets. All he had to do was to go to Mr." "Just so. somebody who had no business to do so has moved the pot of paint from the shelf to the floor. He was hot on the scent now. Thank you. somehow one grew unconsciously to feel that Mr. Blue Fire and "God Save the King" by the full strength of the company.

Smith. no matter. "I should be glad if you would fetch the keys and show me where the rooms are. who had just entered the house. The few articles which he may sneak from our study are of inconsiderable value. What brings him round in this direction." said Psmith." "'Tis well. as he passed. He had just succeeded in getting the thing to spin when Mr. strolling upstairs to fetch his novel. as the bobbin rolled off the string for the fourth time. "I was an ass ever to try it. I shall be under the trees at the far end of the ground.The only two members of the house not out in the grounds when he arrived were Mike and Psmith. Mike had a deck-chair in one hand and a book in the other. "Er--Smith!" "Sir?" "I--er--wish to go round the dormitories." Psmith smoothed a crease out of his waistcoat and tried again. and Psmith. "Enough of this spoolery. sir?" "Do as I tell you. Downing." said Mike. sir. The sound of his footsteps disturbed Psmith and brought the effort to nothing." said Mike disparagingly. I will be with you in about two ticks." said he. found Mr. The philosophical mind needs complete repose in its hours of leisure. and said nothing." snapped Mr. "There's a kid in France. "does he mean by barging in as if he'd bought the place?" "Comrade Downing looks pleased with himself. sir. Psmith--for even the greatest minds will sometimes unbend--was playing diabolo. "who can do it three thousand seven hundred and something times. Do you feel inclined to wait awhile till I have fetched a chair and book?" "I'll be going on. Hullo!" He stared after the sleuth-hound. "Or shall I fetch Mr. flinging the sticks through the open window of the senior day-room. Outwood. Downing standing in the passage with the air of one who has lost his bearings. "A warm afternoon." murmured Psmith courteously. That is to say. They were standing on the gravel drive in front of the boys' entrance. Downing arrived. He is welcome to them." It was Psmith's guiding rule in life never to be surprised at anything. he was trying without success to raise the spool from the ground. "What the dickens. I wonder! Still." Mike walked on towards the field. . so he merely inclined his head gracefully." "With acute pleasure.

Smith. "I beg your pardon. That's further down the passage. Mr. sir? No. Downing paused. An idea struck the master.Psmith said no more. sir. sir?" inquired Psmith politely. crimson in the face with the exercise. "Excuse me. Downing rose. sir?" he asked. . Mr. opening a door. sir. has quite a considerable number of cubic feet of air all to himself. The observation escaped me unawares. I understand. Smith?" "Ferguson's study. then moved on. "Are you looking for Barnes." They moved on up the passage." he said. "we have Barnes' dormitory. He argues justly----" He broke off abruptly and began to watch the other's manoeuvres in silence. Downing with asperity. sir. but went down to the matron's room. An airy room. constructed on the soundest hygienic principles." Mr." he cried." said Mr. "Shall I lead the way. he abstracted the bunch of keys from her table and rejoined the master. Smith. "This. "Here. opening the next door and sinking his voice to an awed whisper. Drawing blank at the last dormitory. Downing stopped short. Psmith's face was wooden in its gravity. Psmith waited patiently by. panting slightly. Smith. "is where _I_ sleep!" Mr. It is Mr. Each boy. "The studies. Mr. Shall I show you the next in order?" "Certainly. "I think he's out in the field. "to keep your remarks to yourself. The frenzy of the chase is beginning to enter into my blood. Downing was peering rapidly beneath each bed in turn. "Show me the next dormitory." said Psmith. "Aha!" said Psmith." said Psmith. baffled. having examined the last bed. sir. Here we have----" Mr. Outwood's boast that no boy has ever asked for a cubic foot of air in vain. "but are we chasing anything?" "Be good enough. "Is this impertinence studied. The matron being out. Downing glanced swiftly beneath the three beds." "I was only wondering." said Psmith. sir. Downing looked at him closely. The master snorted suspiciously. Downing nodded." Mr. This is Barnes'.

Downing pondered. that Mr. "This. The boy whom Sergeant Collard had seen climbing the pipe must have been making for this study."Whose is this?" he asked." "I think. the distant hills----" Mr. gadzooks! The boy whom he had pursued last night had been just about Jackson's size and build! Mr. And." "Not at all. sir. rapping a door. Downing was as firmly convinced at that moment that Mike's had been the hand to wield the paint-brush as he had ever been of anything . sir?" said Psmith. Outwood gave it us rather as a testimonial to our general worth than to our proficiency in school-work." "Nobody else comes into it?" "If they do. sir. The cricketer. The boy was precisely the sort of boy to revenge himself by painting the dog Sammy. Mr Downing was leaning out of the window." "What! Have you a study? You are low down in the school for it. "No. sir. the field. The absence of bars from the window attracted his attention. "A lovely view. "The trees. sir. sir. He spun round and met Psmith's blandly inquiring gaze. Smith. His eye had been caught by the water-pipe at the side of the window." "Ah! Thank you." "Never mind about his cricket. "Whom did you say you shared this study with. is it not." "He is the only other occupant of the room?" "Yes. "Have you no bars to your windows here." Mr. No. sir. That exquisite's figure and general appearance were unmistakable." said Psmith. is mine and Jackson's." Mr. The boy he had chased last night had not been Psmith. Downing suddenly started." said Mr. Downing raked the room with a keen eye. such as there are in my house?" "There appears to be no bar. they go out extremely quickly. Downing with irritation. sir. even in the dusk. He looked at Psmith carefully for a moment. sir. Jackson! The boy bore him a grudge. Smith. putting up his eyeglass. Smith?" "Jackson.

and bent once more to his his life. Such a moment came to Mr. sir. "His boots. that they would be in the basket downstairs. "a fair selection of our various bootings. "Smith!" he said excitedly. he was certain." "Smith. trembling with excitement. "You dropped none of the boots on your way up." "Would they have been cleaned yet?" "If I know Edmund. that he and Jellicoe were alone in the room. Downing uttered a grunt of satisfaction. Psmith leaned against the wall. It began to look as if the latter solution were the correct one. painfully conscious the while that it was creasing his waistcoat. sir? He has them on. Smith?" "Not one. It was a fine performance. Psmith had noticed. and straightened out the damaged garment. Downing stooped eagerly over it." "Where is the pair he wore yesterday?" "Where are the boots of yester-year?" murmured Psmith to himself. "On the spot. by a devious and snaky route. sir." said Mr. on leaving his bed at the sound of the alarm bell. That might mean that Mike had gone out through the door when the bell sounded." Mr. our genial knife-and-boot boy. and that that something was directed in a hostile manner against Mike. Downing knelt on the floor beside . sir--no. I believe. he did not know. sir." Psmith's brain was working rapidly as he went downstairs. Downing then." said Psmith affably. * * * * * He staggered back with the basket. and dumped is down on the study floor. or it might mean that he had been out all the time. But that there was something. Mr." he said. "Where are Jackson's boots?" There are moments when the giddy excitement of being right on the trail causes the amateur (or Watsonian) detective to be incautious. at early dawn. probably in connection with last night's wild happenings. What exactly was at the back of the sleuth's mind. If he had been wise. Boots flew about the room. he would have achieved his object." Mr. Mr. As it was. the getting a glimpse of Mike's boots. "I should say at a venture. "We have here. he rushed straight on. "go and bring that basket to me here. Edmund. collects them. sir. Downing looked up. Downing. I noticed them as he went out just now. prompting these manoeuvres.

sir." "Come with me. Downing left the room. Smith. The headmaster was in his garden. carrying a dirty boot. began to pick up the scattered footgear. sir?" Mr. "No. "Indeed?" he said. It was "Brown. rising. Psmith took the boot. wearing an expression such as a martyr might have worn on being told off for the stake." Mr. I can't say the little chap's familiar to me. I shall take this with me." "Shall I carry it. and." "Shall I put back that boot. Leave the basket here. rose to his feet. "Yes.the basket. "Can you tell me whose boot that is?" asked Mr. Psmith looked at it again. on the following day. and dug like a terrier at a rat-hole. Bridgnorth." he said. Now come across with me to the headmaster's house. might be a trifle undignified. Smith. "I think it would be best. After a moment Psmith followed him. the boot-bearing Psmith in close attendance." as he did so." Bridgnorth was only a few miles from his own home and Mike's. of course." he said. "That's the lot. The Head listened to the amateur detective's statement with interest. with an exclamation of triumph. . sir. when Mr. boot-maker. Psmith looked at the name inside the boot. You can carry it back when you return. one puts two and two together. Downing made his way." he said." It occurred to him that the spectacle of a housemaster wandering abroad on the public highway. "Put those back again. "Ah. of the upset tin in the bicycle shed. Undoubtedly it was Mike's boot. understood what before had puzzled him. Downing had finished. sir?" "Certainly not. and doing so. At last he made a dive. Across the toe of the boot was a broad splash of red paint. then. and when. In his hand he held a boot. He knew nothing. whistling softly the tune of "I do all the dirty work. You never knew whom you might meet on Sunday afternoon. Downing. but when a housemaster's dog has been painted red in the night. the housemaster goes about in search of a paint-splashed boot. of course. Downing reflected. The ex-Etonian. Thither Mr.

CHAPTER L THE DESTROYER OF EVIDENCE The boot became the centre of attraction." "This is foolery. Downing stood staring at the boot with a wild. fixed stare."Indeed? Dear me! It certainly seems--It is a curiously well-connected thread of evidence. not uncommon. Smith will bear me out in this. "You must have made a mistake. Psmith. it was absolutely and entirely innocent. sir!" "What! Do you mean to tell me that you did _not_ see it?" "No. Outwood's house?" "I have it with me. is the--? Just so." said Psmith chattily. Smith. you saw the paint on this boot?" "Paint. but--Can _you_ point out to me this paint is that you speak of?" pince-nez. Smith!" "Sir?" "You have the boot?" "Ah. I brought it on purpose to show to you. Just. putting on a pair of look at--This. Just Mr. It was a broad splash right across the toe. the cynosure of all eyes. "I tell you there was a splash of red paint across the toe. Mr. "now let me so. But. I saw it with my own eyes. it may be that I have not examined sufficient care." he said vehemently. These momentary optical delusions are. "There was paint on this boot. red or otherwise. as if he were waiting for it to do a trick of some kind. You are certain that there was red paint on this boot you discovered in Mr. Mr. sir. I fancy.. putting up his eyeglass. The headmaster looked at it with a mildly puzzled expression. There is certainly no trace of paint on this boot. Downing. er. you say." said the headmaster. Any doctor will tell you----" "I had an aunt. There was no paint on this boot. Downing was the first to break the silence. Downing fixed it with the piercing stare of one who feels that his brain is tottering.." The headmaster interposed. gazed at it with a sort of affectionate interest.. Mr. sir. "who was remarkably subject----" . this boot with exactly where Mr. Downing. Of any suspicion of paint.

sir. "Well. Smith?" "Did I speak. Downing. that the boot appeared to have a certain reddish tint." "I strongly suspect you of having something to do with this. Smith."It is absurd." "A sort of chameleon boot. If Mr." "Exactly. I cannot have been mistaken. Downing. sir. really." said Psmith. It needs a very systematic cleaning before all traces are removed. "What did you say. sir? I am in the middle of a singularly impressive passage of Cicero's speech De Senectute. I remember thinking myself. On one occasion I inadvertently spilt some paint on a shoe of my own." "Yes. The picture on the retina of the eye. Smith could scarcely have cleaned the boot on his way to my house. Mr. A boot that is really smeared with red paint does not become black of itself in the course of a few minutes. The afternoon sun." said Psmith with benevolent approval. Downing recollects." murmured Psmith. "that is surely improbable." "It is undoubtedly black now. consequently. "for pleasure. must have shone on the boot in such a manner as to give it a momentary and fictitious aspect of redness. I can assure you that it does not brush off. Smith." said Mr. "I am positively certain the toe of this boot was red when I found it. "You had better be careful. at the moment. Downing looked searchingly at him. Shall I take the boot with me. streaming in through the window. with the start of one coming suddenly out of a trance. sir?" . Downing shortly. sir. had not time to fade. It is a habit of which I altogether disapprove." Psmith bowed courteously and proceeded. Mr. The mistake----" "Bah!" said Mr. The goaded housemaster turned on him." said Psmith." "I am sorry that you should leave your preparation till Sunday. "it seems to me that that is the only explanation that will square with the facts. sir." said the headmaster." "Really. "My theory." said the headmaster. sir?" said Psmith. Downing. "My theory. with simple dignity." "I am reading it. sir. is that Mr. Downing was deceived by the light and shade effects on the toe of the boot. he did not look long at the boot." "You are very right. "May I go now. if I may----?" "Certainly. Smith. Mr.

and Mr. Psmith's impulse would be to do all that lay in his power to shield Mike. Pedestrians who had the good fortune to be passing along the road between the housemaster's house and Mr. "I can manage without your help. On this occasion. Psmith and Mike. was a most unusual sight. too. if they had but known it. "Put that thing away. The possibility. Mr. were friends. Psmith. and lock the cupboard. "I wish to look at these boots again. left the garden. The next development will be when Comrade Downing thinks it over. and watched him with silent interest through his eyeglass. he. Meanwhile----" He dragged up another chair for his feet and picked up his novel. Psmith's usual mode of progression was a dignified walk. sir?" "Yes. that ridiculous glass. He had not been reading long when there was a footstep in the passage. Downing does not want it?" The housemaster passed the fraudulent piece of evidence to Psmith without a word. and rose to assist him. Outwood's at that moment saw what. however." ." said the housemaster. he raced down the road. Put it away. and is struck with the brilliant idea that it's just possible that the boot he gave me to carry and the boot I did carry were not one boot but two boots. of Psmith having substituted another boot for the one with the incriminating splash of paint on it had occurred to him almost immediately on leaving the headmaster's garden."If Mr. Downing was brisk and peremptory. he reflected. and turning in at Outwood's gate. reckless of possible injuries to the crease of his trousers. place it in the small cupboard under the bookshelf. with a sigh. Feeling aggrieved with himself that he had not thought of this before. every time. and the latter. laid down his novel. carefully tucking up the knees of his trousers. "Sit down." he said to himself approvingly. "Brain." he said. the spectacle of Psmith running." he said. Then he flung himself into a chair and panted. hurried over to Outwood's. in fact the probability. He believed in the contemplative style rather than the hustling. where are we? In the soup. Downing appeared. bounded upstairs like a highly trained professional athlete. "is what one chiefly needs in matters of this kind. Smith. The scrutiny irritated Mr. On arriving at the study. Smith. Downing. having included both masters in a kindly smile. "That thing." Psmith sat down again. Without brain. his first act was to remove a boot from the top of the pile in the basket.

" sighed Psmith replacing the eyeglass in his waistcoat pocket. Possibly an old note-book. sir. on sight. sir?" "What is in this cupboard?" "That cupboard." . There was very little cover there. he stood up. after fidgeting for a few moments." Psmith took up his book again. The floor could be acquitted. and looked wildly round the room. "Yes." "I was interested in what you were doing. and Mr. now thoroughly irritated. and something seemed to tell him that there was the place to look. and resumed his contemplative inspection of the boot-expert. Smith. This cupboard. Don't stare at me in that idiotic way. A ball of string. "Yes. who. lodged another complaint. He rested his elbows on his knees. read if you like. "Just a few odd trifles. Then he caught sight of the cupboard. sir. for Psmith's ability to parry dangerous questions with evasive answers was quite out of the common. sir?" asked Psmith." "Open it."Why. He went through it twice." "I think you will find that it is locked. and his chin on his hands." Mr. It was no use asking Psmith point-blank where it was. Psmith had been reading placidly all the while." "Never mind. but each time without success. His eye roamed about the room. pursued his investigations in the boot-basket. sir. sir?" "Why! Because I tell you to do so. Downing. sir. "Smith!" he said. "Don't sit there staring at me. of harbouring the quarry. perhaps. After the second search. sir. We do not often use it. patiently." "May I read." "Thank you. He was as certain as he could be of anything that the missing piece of evidence was somewhere in the study." "I guessed that that was the reason. sir?" "Yes. Nothing of value or interest. Downing rapped the door irritably. even for so small a fugitive as a number nine boot.

but possibly there were limits to the treating of him as if he did not exist. "Are you aware whom you are talking to. then he himself could wait and make certain that the cupboard was not tampered with." "But where is the key." he said. Smith would be alone in the room. amazed. sir. you may depend upon it that it will take a long search to find it."Unlock it." Mr. sir. He also reflected. Outwood. But when it came to breaking up his furniture. you must get his permission. And he knew that. Jackson might have taken it. there was the maddening thought that if he left the study in search of Mr. "I have my reasons for thinking that you are deliberately keeping the contents of that cupboard from me. "Yes. "Smith. Psmith in the meantime standing in a graceful attitude in front of the cupboard. "I'm afraid you mustn't do that. he would instantly remove the boot to some other hiding-place. Why should he leave the room at all? If he sent Smith. If you wish to break it open. Mr. Downing thought for a moment. He stood chewing these thoughts for awhile." Mr. "go and find Mr. Outwood. Outwood. sir. Then he was seized with a happy idea. in order to obtain his sanction for the house-breaking work which he proposed to carry through. Downing paused. He was perfectly convinced that the missing boot was in the cupboard." he said shortly. and ask him to be good . He is the sole lessee and proprietor of that cupboard. I am only the acting manager." Psmith got up. Smith?" he inquired acidly. if Smith were left alone in the room." Mr. "I don't believe a word of it. He thoroughly disbelieved the story of the lost key. sir. I shall break open the door. perhaps----! On the other hand. Outwood in the general rule did not count much in the scheme of things. staring into vacancy. to whom that cupboard happens to belong." "Where did you see it last?" "It was in the lock yesterday morning. To enter his house without his permission and search it to a certain extent was all very well. sir?" "Have you not got the key?" "If the key is not in the lock. And I know it's not Mr." "Where is Jackson?" "Out in the field somewhere. Downing stared.

to take a parallel case. Outwood wishes you to ask him to be good enough to come to this . Mr. your word would be law. I ought to have remembered that before. If you pressed a button. "Go and find Mr. Psmith was staring reflectively at the ceiling. I would fly to do your bidding. So in my case. and explain to him how matters stand. Outwood. Downing was looking as if at any moment he might say. as the latter stood looking at him without making any movement in the direction of the door. imagine the colonel commanding the garrison at a naval station going on board a battleship and ordering the crew to splice the jibboom spanker. "_Quick_. "Yes. who resumed the conversation. In----'" "This impertinence is doing you no good. Smith. 'Psmith. but the crew would naturally decline to move in the matter until the order came from the commander of the ship. Downing is a man I admire as a human being and respect as a master. as who should say." he said. as if he had been asked a conundrum. I say to myself. If you will go to Mr. It might be an admirable thing for the Empire that the jibboom spanker _should_ be spliced at that particular juncture. I would do the rest. Downing's voice was steely. however." "one cannot. Smith?" Mr. sir?" said Psmith meditatively. sir." "What!" "Yes. 'Mr." Psmith waved a hand deprecatingly. ha. "on a technical point. Outwood. Outwood's house I cannot do anything except what pleases me or what is ordered by Mr. His manner was almost too respectful." he said. "Thwarted to me face." CHAPTER LI MAINLY ABOUT BOOTS "Be quick. "Let us be reasonable. "If you will let me explain. One cannot." There was one of those you-could-have-heard-a-pin-drop silences. I was about to say that in any other place but Mr. Mr. Outwood's house. sir. ha! And by a very stripling!" It was Psmith. Smith." Psmith still made no move. which made it all the more a pity that what he said did not keep up the standard of docility. "I take my stand. "Do you intend to disobey me. But in Mr." he continued. sir. and come back and say to me. Outwood at once.enough to come here for a moment.

His first act was to fling the cupboard-key out into the bushes. Outwood with spirit. "I thought I had made it perfectly clear." Mr. Smith." said Mr. Attaching one end of this to the boot that he had taken from the cupboard. He went there. His next act was to take from the shelf a piece of string." "I can assure you. Smith." . and with him Mr. as the footsteps died away. as if he were not quite equal to the intellectual pressure of the situation. and thrust it up the chimney. catching sight of a Good-Gracious-has-the-man-_no_-sense look on the other's face. "I have been washing my hands. he went to the window. and took out the boot. "Smith. "Very well. I cannot quite understand what it is Mr.' then I shall be only too glad to go and find him. Downing wishes me to do. and. that it was hidden from above by the window-sill. unlocked the cupboard." "H'm!" said Mr. Outwood. sir. "But. the latter looking dazed." added Mr. that if there is a boot in that cupboard now. He noticed with approval. Placing this in the cupboard. when it had stopped swinging. was fastened to the wall by an iron band. I saw Smith go into the bathroom. When he returned. and washed off the soot. Downing sharply. Downing was in the study." added Psmith pensively to himself. I shall not tell you again. The bathroom was a few yards down the corridor. up which Mike had started to climb the night before. On a level with the sill the water-pipe. Outwood. Smith?" asked Mr." Psmith flicked a speck of dust from his coat-sleeve. "Yes." He took the key from his pocket. sir." snapped the sleuth." why he should not do so if he wishes it. Downing suspiciously. and let the boot swing free. sir?" "Go and fetch Mr. He returned to his place at the mantelpiece. Then he turned to the boot. Mr. You see my difficulty. Then he selected from the basket a particularly battered specimen. "I did not promise that it would be the same boot. at any rate. he re-locked the door. Where is the difficulty?" "I cannot understand why you should suspect Smith of keeping his boots in a cupboard. Downing stalked out of the room." "My dear there will be a boot there when you return. blackening his hand. Outwood. "Where have you been. He tied the other end of the string to this. As an after-thought he took another boot from the basket. A shower of soot fell into the grate.

belonging to Mike." he added helpfully. _what_ is it you wish to do?" "This. approvingly. and delivered two rapid blows at the cupboard-door. "Did you place that boot there. my dear fellow. Psmith'a expression said. "This boot has no paint on it. Let me see. Downing shortly." "So with your permission. sir. round-eyed. It is that boot which I believe Smith to be concealing in this cupboard. Downing was examining his find. and tore the boot from its resting-place. "I told you. as Smith declares that he has lost the key."Exactly. Downing?" interrupted Mr. sir." "He painted--!" said Mr. Outwood started. "Objection? None at all. glaring at Psmith." "It certainly appears. "Why?" "I don't know why. do you understand?" Mr. Outwood. He never used them. and Psmith shook his head sorrowfully at Mr. The wood splintered." "If I must explain again. was open for all to view. Mr. Last night a boy broke out of your house. none at all. Mr." said Psmith sympathetically. A third blow smashed the flimsy lock. with any skeletons it might contain. but they always managed to get themselves packed with the rest of his belongings on the last day of the holidays. when I lost the key----" "Are you satisfied now. He looked up with an exclamation of surprise and wrath." Mr." said Psmith. and painted my dog Sampson red. "to be free from paint." he said. Smith?" "I must have done. I propose to break open the door of this cupboard. There's a sort of reddish glow just there. During the escapade one of his boots was splashed with the paint." said Psmith." he said. will you kindly give me your attention for a moment. Outwood." said Mr. There was a pair of dumb-bells on the floor." "I wondered where that boot had got to. "or is there any more furniture you wish to break?" . if you look at it sideways. Then. "We must humour him. The cupboard. "This is not the boot. "I told you. "I've been looking for it for days. Have you any objection?" Mr. my dear Outwood. Outwood with asperity. Outwood looked amazedly at Smith. At any rate. Downing seized one of these. as plainly as if he had spoken the words. he did. Now. "You have touched the spot. Downing uttered a cry of triumph.

He straightened himself and brushed a bead of perspiration from his face with the back of his hand." argued Psmith. "Ah." Mr. Mr. after all.The excitement of seeing his household goods smashed with a dumb-bell had made the archaeological student quite a swashbuckler for the moment. "We all make mistakes. A Outwood's set him fizzing off on the trail caught sight of the little pile of soot in inspect it. rolling in a fine frenzy from heaven to earth. He bent down to "Dear me." he said. and caught Psmith's benevolent gaze. But his brain was chance remark of Mr. sir. hard knock. "I must remember to have the chimneys swept. SMITH?"] "Yes. "Did--you--put--that--boot--there. An avalanche of soot fell upon his hand and wrist. baffled. "Animal spirits. not to have given me all this trouble.") Mr." "Then what did you _MEAN_ by putting it there?" roared Mr. "WHAT!" . and the result was like some gruesome burlesque of a nigger minstrel." said Psmith patiently." said Psmith. Downing laughed grimly. It should have been done before. Smith. Downing a good. You have done yourself no good by it. and one could imagine him giving Mr." "It's been great fun. Apply them. Outwood had the grate. sir. once more. nearly knocking Mr. Smith. from earth to heaven. also focussed itself on the pile of soot. A little more. he used the sooty hand." he said. You were not quite clever enough. Smith?" he asked slowly. though. The sleuth-hound stood still for a moment." "You would have done better. Downing. and thrust an arm up into the unknown. my dear Watson. He looked up. "Fun!" Mr. "I thought as much. and a thrill went through him. "You may have reason to change your opinion of what constitutes----" His voice failed as his eye fell on the all-black toe of the boot. Unfortunately. for at the same instant his fingers had closed upon what he was seeking. Downing's eye. Outwood off his feet. [Illustration: "DID--YOU--PUT--THAT--BOOT--THERE. but he ignored it. and that thought was "What ho for the chimney!" He dived forward with a rush. sir. sir." "No. Soot in the fireplace! Smith washing his hands! ("You know my methods. Downing's mind at that moment contained one single thought. working with the rapidity of a buzz-saw.

but on the whole it had been worth it. worked in some mysterious cell. he saw. You are quite black. for the time being. Nobody would think of looking there a second time." Then he allowed Mr. Mr. as he had said. "Soot!" "Your face is covered. "My dear Downing. a point where the spirit definitely refuses. He felt the calm after-glow which comes to the general after a successfully conducted battle. most. Mr. of course. "your face. for a man of refinement. Let me show you the way to my room. Psmith went to the window. at the back of the house. And he rather doubted if he would be able to do so. Really. catching sight of his Chirgwin-like countenance." he said. "I say you will hear more of it. to battle any longer against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune." said Psmith. Downing had found the other."Animal spirits. soap." What Mr. quite covered. and sponges. the boot-boy. and it had cut into his afternoon. and hauled in the string. It seemed to him that. Psmith went to the bathroom to wash his hands again. He went down beneath it. Having restored the basket to its proper place. intervened. "You will hear more of this. you present a most curious appearance. the best thing he could do would be to place the boot in safe hiding. positively. You must come and wash it. accordingly. Edmund. Downing would have replied to this one cannot tell. It was the knock-out. For. sir. "Soot!" he murmured weakly. sir. though one can guess roughly. It would take a lot of cleaning. Outwood really would have the chimneys swept. * * * * * When they had gone. It had been trying. with the feeling that he had done a good day's work. The odds were that he had forgotten about it already. The boot-cupboard was empty. The problem now was what to do with the painted boot." he said. my dear fellow. In the language of the Ring. . even if he could get hold of the necessary implements for cleaning it." In all times of storm and tribulation there comes a breaking-point. His voice roused the sufferer to one last flicker of spirit. and it was improbable that Mr. It is positively covered with soot. Outwood. Outwood to lead him out to a place where there were towels. Downing could not bear up against this crowning blow. he went up to the study again. far from the madding crowd. Smith. just as he was opening his mouth." "It certainly has a faintly sooty aspect. His fears were realised. he took the count. until he should have thought out a scheme. and placed the red-toed boot in the chimney. In the boot-cupboard downstairs there would probably be nothing likely to be of any use. at about the same height where Mr.

Where there is only one in a secret the secret is more liable to remain unrevealed. He made the mistake of not telling Mike of the afternoon's happenings. sir. I can still understand sound reasoning. you chump? I can't go over to school in one boot. "Great Scott." as much as to say. there's the bell. Mr. Edmund. Jackson." replied Edmund to both questions. It was not altogether forgetfulness. Boys say. if he does. where the regulations say that coats only of black or dark blue are to be worn." Edmund turned this over in his mind. "No." And Mike sprinted off in the pumps he stood in. "'Ere's one of 'em. He forgot what the consequences might be if he did not. "Jones.CHAPTER LII ON THE TRAIL AGAIN The most massive minds are apt to forget things at times. There was nothing. Psmith was no exception to the rule. So Psmith kept his own counsel. School rules decree that a boy shall go to his form-room in boots. as if he hoped that Mike might be satisfied with a compromise. thank goodness. There is no real reason why. but. the thing creates a perfect sensation. dash it. It is only a deviation from those ordinary rules of school life. some wag is sure either to stamp on the . summoned from the hinterland of the house to give his opinion why only one of Mike's boots was to be found. Edmund. But. should he prefer them. "Well. had no views on the subject. that enables one to realise how strong public-school prejudices really are. The most adroit plotters make their little mistakes. At a school. what _have_ you got on?" Masters say. to be gained from telling Mike." "Well. and then said. what am I to do? Where is the other boot?" "Don't know. with the result that Mike went over to school on the Monday morning in pumps. Mr. a boy who appears one day in even the most respectable and unostentatious brown finds himself looked on with a mixture of awe and repulsion. Jackson. which one observes naturally and without thinking. I mean--Oh. for instance. He seemed to look on it as one of those things which no fellow can understand. Psmith was one of those people who like to carry through their operations entirely by themselves. So in the case of boots. he thought. if the day is fine. "I may have lost a boot." he said. which would be excessive if he had sand-bagged the headmaster. _what_ are you wearing on your feet?" In the few minutes which elapse between the assembling of the form for call-over and the arrival of the form-master. "One? What's the good of that. he should not wear shoes.

abuse. and the subsequent proceedings. Downing. There was once a boy who went to school one morning in elastic-sided boots. sir?" said Mike. Downing always detected him in the first five minutes. settled itself comfortably for the address from the throne." mechanically. when a particularly tricky bit of Livy was on the bill of fare. yes. "I have lost one of my boots. as worms." whereupon Stone resumed his seat with the feeling that the age of miracles had . with a few exceptions. Downing who gave trouble. So that he escaped the ragging he would have had to undergo at Wrykyn in similar circumstances.. but they feel it in their bones. of a vivid crimson. Downing's lips. was taken unawares. leaning back against the next row of desks. and the form. the form-master appeared to notice nothing wrong. Mike. he floundered hopelessly. He stared at Mike for a moment in silence. he told him to start translating. who had been expecting at least ten minutes' respite. called his name. since his innings against Downing's on the Friday.. Downing was perhaps the most bigoted anti-shoeist in the whole list of English schoolmasters. Dunster had entered the form-room in heel-less Turkish bath-slippers. or else to pull one of them It had been the late Dunster's practice always to go over to school in shoes when. detention--every weapon was employed by him in dealing with their wearers. Stone. sir. to his growing surprise and satisfaction. and that meant a lecture of anything from ten minutes to a quarter of an hour on Untidy Habits and Boys Who Looked like Loafers--which broke the back of the morning's work nicely. accordingly. sir. When he found the place in his book and began to construe." A kind of gulp escaped from Mr. as he usually did. "Yes. Mr. turning to Stone.. "_What_ are you wearing on your feet. Then. They cannot see it. It was only Mr. On one occasion. stiffening like a pointer. looking on them. and inaugurate an impromptu game of football with it. But. Jackson?" "Pumps. Mike had always been coldly distant in his relations to the rest of his form. lines. He waged war remorselessly against shoes. He said "Yes. just as people who dislike cats always know when one is in a room with them. Mr. had regarded Mike with respect. including his journey over to the house to change the heel-less atrocities. had seen him through very nearly to the quarter to eleven interval. had not been in his place for three minutes when Mr. Satire. accompanying the act with some satirical remark. he felt shaky in the morning's lesson. There is a sort of instinct which enables some masters to tell when a boy in their form is wearing shoes instead of boots. and finally "That will do." "You are wearing pumps? Are you not aware that PUMPS are not the proper things to come to school in? Why are you wearing _PUMPS_?" The form.

Downing's mind was in a whirl. They played well enough when on the field. Stone and Robinson had left their comfortable beds that day at six o'clock. jumping on board. which nobody objects to. he had now added to this an extra dose to be taken before breakfast.returned. it is no joke taking a high catch. that they were fed up with Adair administration and meant to strike. but neither cared greatly whether the school had a good season or not. said. "Wal. and what are your impressions of our glorious country?" so did Mr. As a rule." said Stone." said Robinson. Until the sun has really got to work. and the first American interviewer. and no strain. to whom cricket was the great and serious interest of life. came to a momentous decision.C. and sped to the headmaster. "I don't intend to stick it. In view of the M. that searching test of cricket keenness. When the bell rang at a quarter to eleven. I mean. Mike himself. Adair had contented himself with practice in the afternoon after school. in the cool morning air. and all that sort of thing. And Stone and Robinson had but a luke-warm attachment to the game. "It's all rot. Downing feel at that moment. Rushing about on an empty stomach. yawning and heavy-eyed. match on the Wednesday." said Stone. compared with Mike's. consequently. "if it wasn't bad for the heart. His case was complete. They played the game entirely for their own sakes. to wit. At all costs another experience like to-day's must be avoided. completed the chain. discussing the subject of cricket over a bun and ginger-beer at the school shop. The immediate cause of revolt was early-morning fielding-practice.C. "What on earth's the good of sweating about before breakfast? It only makes you tired. with the explanation that he had lost a boot." "Personally." . They were neither of them of the type which likes to undergo hardships for the common good. and had caught catches and fielded drives which. gnawing his bun. and at the earliest possible moment met to debate as to what was to be done about it. had been put upon Stone's and Robinson's allegiance." "I shouldn't wonder. Mr. The result was that they went back to the house for breakfast with a never-again feeling. however. he gathered up his gown. had stung like adders and bitten like serpents. Stone's dislike of the experiment was only equalled by Robinson's. sir. As Columbus must have felt when his ship ran into harbour. had shirked early-morning fielding-practice in his first term at Wrykyn. Mike's appearance in shoes. CHAPTER LIII THE KETTLE METHOD It was during the interval that day that Stone and Robinson.

" "Yes. but of the other two representatives of Outwood's house there were no signs. what can he do. of course." "I don't think he will kick us out." "Nor do I. as they left the shop." "I mean. consequently. "I'm hanged if I turn out to-morrow. We'll get Jackson to shove us into the team. had no information to give. either." "Before breakfast?" said Robinson. was accustomed the body with that of the he was silent and apparently wrapped in sat at the top of the table with Adair on at the morning meal to blend nourishment of mind. To a certain type of cricketer runs are runs. unless he is a man of action. Which was not a great help. the keenness of those under him. with a scratch team. If he does. The result of all this was that Adair. practically helpless. Besides. Stone was the first to recover. But when a cricket captain runs up against a boy who does not much care whether he plays for the team or not. Barnes. With the majority. Downing. "Let's." said Robinson." Their position was a strong one. wherever and however made. it's such absolute rot. they felt that they would just as soon play for Lower Borlock as for the school. but in reality he has only one weapon. Mr. he'd better find somebody else. who his right. "Rather. are easily handled. found himself two short. "Fielding-practice again to-morrow. Taking it all round. He can't play the M. As a rule he had ten minutes with the . "He can do what he likes about it. You were rotten to-day. the fear of being excluded or ejected from a team is a spur that drives. The bowling of the opposition would be weaker in the former case. then he finds himself in a difficult position." At this moment Adair came into the shop.C. "at six. Adair proceeded with the fielding-practice without further delay." he said.C."Nor do I." "All right. and. If we aren't good enough to play for the team without having to get up overnight to catch catches. A cricket captain may seem to be an autocrat of tremendous power. Barnes was among those present. turning out with the team next morning for fielding-practice. and the chance of making runs greater. we'll go and play for that village Jackson plays for. questioned on the subject. You two must buck up." he said briskly. And I don't mind that. beyond the fact that he had not seen them about anywhere. after all? Only kick us out of the team. Stone and Robinson felt secure. leaving the two malcontents speechless." And he passed on. At breakfast that morning thought. The majority. you know.

engaged in the intellectual pursuit of kicking the wall and marking the height of each kick with chalk. . "We decided not to. It was not until after school that an opportunity offered itself." he said. I suppose?" "That's just the word. To take it for granted that the missing pair had overslept themselves would have been a safe and convenient way out of the difficulty. Many captains might have passed the thing over. He champed his bread and marmalade with an abstracted air. who left the lead to Stone in all matters. He never shirked anything. We came to the conclusion that we hadn't any use for early-morning fielding. To-day. But Adair was not the sort of person who seeks for safe and convenient ways out of difficulties. We didn't give it the chance to. He resolved to interview the absentees." "Oh?" "Yes. however." "It didn't. "You were rather fed-up.daily paper before the bell rang. Why not?" Stone had rehearsed this scene in his mind." Adair's manner became ominously calm. He was wondering what to do in this matter of Stone and Robinson. and it was his practice to hand on the results of his reading to Adair and the other house-prefects. and he spoke with the coolness which comes from rehearsal. "Hullo." Robinson laughed appreciatively. usually formed an interested and appreciative audience. He went across to Outwood's and found the two non-starters in the senior day-room." said Stone. physical or moral. Adair's entrance coincided with a record effort by Stone. Adair!" "Don't mention it. these world-shaking news-items seemed to leave Adair cold." "Sorry it bored you. though the house-prefects expressed varying degrees of excitement at the news that Tyldesley had made a century against Gloucestershire. "I know you didn't. and that a butter famine was expected in the United States. who. "Sorry. "We didn't turn up. said nothing. not having seen the paper. Stone spoke. which caused the kicker to overbalance and stagger backwards against the captain. Why weren't you two at fielding-practice this morning?" Robinson.

as you seem to like lying in bed. Adair. The atmosphere was growing a great deal too tense for his comfort." "Don't be an ass. "I was only thinking of something." "You can turn out if you feel like it. Jackson will get us a game any Wednesday or Saturday for the village he plays for. I think you are. you are now. "It's no good making a row about it." said Stone. And the school team aren't such a lot of flyers that you can afford to go chucking people out of it whenever you want to. if you like. There's no earthly need for us to turn out for fielding-practice before breakfast. You won't find me there. I thought you'd see it was no good making a beastly row. you're going to to-morrow morning. "You cad." Stone intervened. Robinson?" asked Adair. He was up again in a moment. but he said it without any deep conviction."What's the joke." "What are you going to do? Kick us out?" "No. See what I mean?" "You and Jackson seem to have fixed it all up between you." said Robinson." "That'll be a disappointment. You must see that you can't do anything." "You don't think there is? You may be right. Adair. Adair had pushed the table back. "I wasn't ready. All the same. Shall we go on?" ." "That's only your opinion. you can kick us out of the team." said the junior partner in the firm. We've told you we aren't going to. We'll play for the school all right. and knocked him down. and was standing in the middle of the open space." said Adair quietly. but we don't care if you do. Of course." "What!" "Six sharp." "Good. So we're all right. Don't be late." said Stone." "I'll give you something else to think about soon. with some haste. Nor Robinson?" "No. "You've quite made up your minds?" "Yes. I'll give you till five past six." "Well. "There's no joke. "Right.

" Stone made no reply. But it takes a more than ordinarily courageous person to embark on a fight which he knows must end in his destruction. but he was cooler and quicker. "You don't happen to know if he's in." said Stone." CHAPTER LIV ADAIR HAS A WORD WITH MIKE Mike.Stone dashed in without a word." he said hastily. He was not altogether a coward. It seemed to Robinson that neither pleasure nor profit was likely to come from an encounter with Adair. and it did not take him long to make up his mind. "I'm not particular to a minute or two. "I'll turn up. He got up slowly and stood leaning with one hand on the table. But science tells." "Good. His blow was always home a fraction of a second sooner than his opponent's. a task which precluded anything in the shape of conversation. "Thanks." Stone was dabbing at his mouth with a handkerchief. How about you." said Adair. Robinson knew that he was nothing like a match even for Stone. "Suppose we say ten past six?" said Adair. so Robinson replied that Mike's study was the first you came to on the right of the corridor at the top of the stairs. In different circumstances he might have put up a respectable show. "I wonder if either of you chaps could tell me which is Jackson's study. Adair was smaller and lighter than Stone. "Will ten past six suit you for fielding-practice to-morrow?" said Adair. "Thanks." said Adair. "I should like a word with him if he isn't busy. and for a few moments the two might have seemed evenly matched to a not too intelligent spectator. Robinson?" Robinson had been a petrified spectator of the Captain-Kettle-like manoeuvres of the cricket captain. I don't know if he's still there. all unconscious of the stirring proceedings which had been going . even in a confined space. At the end of a minute Stone was on the floor again. I suppose?" "He went up with Smith a quarter of an hour ago. "All right. "All right." said Adair." "I'll go and see. and he knew more about the game. and Adair had disposed of Stone in a little over one minute.

* * * * * Psmith. Altogether. Which. A broken arm. a veteran who had been playing for the club since Fuller Pilch's time--had got home by two wickets.. As he put Strachan's letter away in his pocket. the fast bowler. entered the room.on below stairs. Mike mourned over his suffering school. everything had gone wrong.C. had deprived the team of the services of Dunstable. He's had a . said Strachan. was off. the only man who had shown any signs of being able to bowl a side out. He was conscious once more of that feeling of personal injury which had made him hate his new school on the first day of term. all his old bitterness against Sedleigh. was hard lines on Ripton. If only he could have been there to help. including Dixon. The Ripton match. The M. it was Strachan's opinion that the Wrykyn team that summer was about the most hopeless gang of dead-beats that had ever made an exhibition of itself on the school grounds. reading the serial story in a daily paper which he had abstracted from the senior day-room. Psmith was the first to speak. I seem to see the _consommé_ splashing about his ankles. but a bit of jolly good luck for Wrykyn. had smashed them by a hundred and fifty runs. when his resentment was at its height. It might have made all the difference. Ripton having eight of their last year's team left. Geddington had wiped them off the face of the earth. In school cricket the importance of a good start for the first wicket is incalculable. Mike remained in the deck-chair in which he was sitting. The Incogs. In fact. which had been ebbing during the past few days. contracted in the course of some rash experiments with a day-boy's motor-bicycle. as it had saved them from what would probably have been a record hammering. Since this calamity. fortunately. In Mike's absence things had been going badly with Wrykyn. the least of the three first-class-cricketing Jacksons. made the intruder free of the study with a dignified wave of the hand. the concrete representative of everything Sedleighan. "I should say that young Lord Antony Trefusis was in the soup already. "If you ask my candid opinion.C. led by Mike's brother Reggie. to go in first and knock the bowlers off their length. in which the successor to the cricket captaincy which should have been Mike's had a good deal to say in a lugubrious strain. that Adair. Wrykyn had struck a bad patch. may take a weak team triumphantly through a season. In school cricket one good batsman. There are moments in life's placid course when there has got to be the biggest kind of row. and went on reading. owing to an outbreak of mumps at that shrine of learning and athletics--the second outbreak of the malady in two terms. and contented himself with glaring at the newcomer. with a team recruited exclusively from the rabbit-hutch--not a well-known man on the side except Stacey. looking up from his paper. wrote Strachan. was peacefully reading a letter he had received that morning from Strachan at Wrykyn. This was one of them." he said. And it was at this point. against whom Mike alone of the Wrykyn team had been able to make runs in the previous season. who was leaning against the mantelpiece. returned with a rush.

"I'll tell you in a minute." Psmith turned away. knave. I thought that you and he were like brothers. Stone chucked it after the first round. It won't take long. He's just off there at the end of this instalment.C. We must Do It Now. That is Comrade Jackson. He suspected that Adair had come to ask him once again to play for the school." he said. is waiting there with a sandbag. and Mike in his present mood felt that it would be a privilege to see that he got it." "An excellent way of passing an idle half-hour.C. Speed is the key-note of the present age." said Mike. Promptitude." "Fate." he sighed. For some reason. I'll none of thee. This is no time for loitering. Oh. We----" "Buck up. He could not quite follow what all this was about." "That." . "I'm not the man I was." "Stone and I had a discussion about early-morning fielding-practice. We would brood. "is right. after a prolonged inspection. "Surely. "I've just been talking to Stone and Robinson. and resting his elbows on the mantelpiece." said Psmith approvingly. dark circles beneath my eyes. gazed at himself mournfully in the looking-glass. Leave us. "Certainly. "We weren't exactly idle. He could think of no other errand that was likely to have set the head of Downing's paying afternoon calls." said Psmith. Psmith was regarding Adair through his eyeglass with pain and surprise. "has led your footsteps to the right place. Shakespeare. The fierce rush of life at Sedleigh is wasting me away. We must hustle. sitting before you. the poacher. which might possibly be made dear later. The fact that the M. but it was pretty lively while it did. go thee. too. Such a bad example for Comrade Robinson." said Adair. "you do not mean us to understand that you have been _brawling_ with Comrade Stone! This is bad hearing." Mike got up out of his chair." said Adair grimly. Comrade Adair? Or don't you take any interest in contemporary literature?" "Thanks. I bet Long Jack. match was on the following day made this a probable solution of the reason for his visit. We must be strenuous. the Pride of the School. "There are lines on my face. Care to see the paper. "I just wanted to speak to Jackson for a minute." said Psmith.note telling him to be under the oak-tree in the Park at midnight." "What do you want?" said Mike." said Adair. "It didn't last long. Despatch. but there was no mistaking the truculence of Adair's manner. Adair was looking for trouble. Adair.

For just one second the two drew themselves together preparatory to beginning the serious business of the interview. stepped between them. "What makes you think that?" "I don't think. You aren't building on it much.C. "So are you. "I'm afraid you'll be disappointed." he added philosophically. He said he wouldn't." Mike remained silent. and in that second Psmith." replied Adair with equal courtesy." Mike took another step forward." said Psmith from the mantelpiece. turning from the glass." added Adair. isn't it?" "Very." "What's that?" "You're going to play for the school against the M.?" he asked curiously. and I want you to get some practice. rather. "What makes you think I shall play against the M.C. So is Robinson." said Psmith regretfully. Psmith peered with increased earnestness into the glass. ." "Any special reason for my turning out?" "Yes.C. There was an electric silence in the study. "I get thinner and thinner. after the manner of two dogs before they fly at one another. turning to Mike.C. "are a bit close together." "I don't think so." Mike drew a step closer to Adair. Mike looked at Adair. Mike said nothing. to-morrow. are you?" said Mike politely. "I'm going to make you. "it's too late to alter that now. and Adair looked at Mike. Adair moved to meet him. However.said Adair. "Oh?" said Mike at last. so I told him to turn out at six to-morrow morning. "Would you care to try now?" said Mike. He's going to all right." "My eyes. "I am." "I wonder how you got that idea!" "Curious I should have done. so we argued it out. I know. "I thought his fielding wanted working up a bit.

for goodness sake do it where there's some room. I don't want all the study furniture smashed. "My dear young friends. How would it be to move on there? Any objections? None? Then shift ho! and let's get it over. as a rule. Up to the moment when "time" was called." CHAPTER LV CLEARING THE AIR Psmith was one of those people who lend a dignity to everything they touch. it was a pity that the actual fight did not quite live up to its referee's introduction. In an ordinary contest with the gloves. and are consequently brief and furious. with a minute rest in between." After which. unless you count junior school scuffles--are the outcome of weeks of suppressed bad blood. then. So it happened that there was nothing formal or cautious about the present battle. Dramatically. what would have been. with his opponent cool and boxing in his true form. nothing could have prevented him winning. Comrades Adair and Jackson? Very well. only a few yards down the road. I lodge a protest. ." said Mike. one was probably warmly attached to him. Time. In a fight each party. in the midst of a hundred fragile and priceless ornaments. and at the end of the last round one expects to resume that attitude of mind. a mere unscientific scramble. without his guiding hand. he could not have lasted three rounds against Adair. If Adair had kept away and used his head. against the direct advice of Doctor Watts. hates the other. where you can scrap all night if you want to. Under his auspices the most unpromising ventures became somehow enveloped in an atmosphere of measured stateliness. "The rounds. while Mike had never had a lesson in his life. Are you ready. Psmith waved him back with a deprecating gesture. "will be of three minutes' duration. It was this that saved Mike. however much one may want to win. one does not dislike one's opponent. But when you propose to claw each other in my study. I suppose you must. when they do occur--which is only once in a decade nowadays. producing a watch. A man who is down will have ten seconds in which to rise. The latter was a clever boxer. took on something of the impressive formality of the National Sporting Club. Directly Psmith called "time." they rushed together as if they meant to end the thing in half a minute. I know a bank whereon the wild thyme grows. and all Mike wanted was to get at Adair. there should have been cautious sparring for openings and a number of tensely contested rounds."Get out of the light. Smith. If you really feel that you want to scrap." he said placidly. as they passed through a gate into a field a couple of hundred yards from the house gate. On the present occasion. "if you _will_ let your angry passions rise. All Adair wanted was to get at Mike." he said. In a boxing competition. But school fights. as if it had been the final of a boxing competition.

thirty seconds from the start. The Irish blood in him. the deliverer of knock-out blows." "Is he hurt much. after all. and. coming into contact with his opponent's right fist. he knew. and he was all but knocked out. however. He'll be sitting up and taking notice soon. but with all the science knocked out of him. He went in at Mike with both hands. He was conscious of a perplexing whirl of new and strange emotions. coming forward. The feat presented that interesting person. the cricketer. Mike had the greater strength. about the most exciting thing that ever happens to one in the course of one's life--it is difficult for the fighters to see what the spectators see. now rendered him reckless. "but exciting. "In a minute or two he'll be skipping about like a little lambkin. Mike's blow had taken him within a fraction of an inch of the point of the jaw. "Brief. You go away and pick flowers. He had seen knock-outs before in the ring. I think. Where the spectators see an assault on an already beaten man. to him in a fresh and pleasing light. He rose full of fight. that Adair was done. so he hit out with all his strength. much as Tom Brown did at the beginning of his fight with Slogger Williams. knocked his man clean off his feet with an unscientific but powerful right-hander. he felt an undeniable thrill of pride at having beaten him. Jackson. There was a swift exchange of blows.As it was. as anybody looking on would have seen. and Adair looked unpleasantly corpse-like." said Psmith. It was the Frontal Attack in its most futile form. For a moment he stood blinking vaguely. In the excitement of a fight--which is. At the same time. Then he lurched forward at Mike. Psmith saw. . that there was something to be said for his point of view. "_He's_ all right. but this was the first time he had ever effected one on his own account. He abandoned all attempt at guarding. Mike could not see this." Mike put on his coat and walked back to the house. as one who had had a tough job to face and had carried it through. He found himself thinking that Adair was a good chap. All he understood was that his man was on his feet again and coming at him. was strange to him. he threw away his advantages. and if he sees you he may want to go on with the combat. got a shock which kept it tingling for the rest of the day. but Jackson. Mike Jackson. We may take that. which for the ordinary events of life made him merely energetic and dashing. and this time Adair went down and stayed down. there had better be a bit of an interval for alterations and repairs first. and he found this new acquaintance a man to be respected. and that it was a pity he had knocked him about so much. which would do him no earthly good. and as unsuccessful as a frontal attack is apt to be. If it's going to be continued in our next. and then Adair went down in a heap. chief among which was a curious feeling that he rather liked Adair. This finished Adair's chances." said Psmith. He got up slowly and with difficulty. to be the conclusion of the entertainment. if I were you. do you think?" asked Mike. I shouldn't stop. the fighter himself only sees a legitimate piece of self-defence against an opponent whose chances are equal to his own. I will now have a dash at picking up the slain. I'll look after him. and the result was the same as on that historic occasion. in the course of which Mike's left elbow.

There was a pause. "Look here. It broadens the soul and improves the action of the skin. I shouldn't have thought anybody would get overwhelmingly attached to this abode of wrath. It's not a bad idea in its way. "Sha'n't play. he had seemed to himself to be acting with massive dignity. "Sitting up and taking nourishment once more. in fact. He's all for giving Sedleigh a much-needed boost-up. if they are fought fairly and until one side has had enough. had the result which most fights have. is that Stone apparently led him to understand that you had offered to give him and Robinson places in your village team. However. My eloquence convinced him. He's not a bad cove. "I seldom interfere in terrestrial strife. I said that you would scorn to tarnish the Jackson escutcheon by not playing the game. why not drop him a line to say that you'll play against the M. I don't see why one shouldn't humour him. and drained the bad blood out of him. by making the cricket season a bit of a banger. And as he's leaving at the end of the term. It shook him up.' game. Comrade Adair's rather a stoutish fellow in his way. but he was not sure that he was quite prepared to go as far as a complete climb-down. it mightn't be a scaly scheme to give him a bit of a send-off." he said. if possible. You didn't. Psmith straightened his tie. before. "How's Adair?" asked Mike. He was feeling better disposed towards Adair and Sedleigh than he had felt.C. He had come to this conclusion. As a start. Jones.The fight. after much earnest thought. and willing to give his services in exchange for a comfortable home.C." said Mike indignantly. What seems to have fed up Comrade Adair. "It wouldn't be a bad idea." It came upon Mike with painful clearness that he had been making an ass of himself. but it seems to me that there's an opening here for a capable peace-maker. to return to the point under discussion. to-morrow?" Mike did not reply at once. to a certain extent. of course?" "Of course not. but every one to his taste. a touch of the stone-walls-do-not-a-prison-make sort of thing." continued Psmith. Apparently he's been sweating since early childhood to buck the school up. when Psmith entered the study. I'm not much on the 'Play up for the old school. Where. There had appeared to him something rather fine in his policy of refusing to identify himself in any way with Sedleigh. "There's nothing like giving a man a bit in every now and then. he now saw that he had simply been sulking like some wretched kid." "He's all right. He now saw that his attitude was to be summed up in the words. why not?" . We have been chatting. It revolutionised Mike's view of things." said Mike. "I told him he didn't know the old _noblesse oblige_ spirit of the Jacksons. but Comrade Adair seems to have done it. not afraid of work.

Are you really any good at cricket?" "Competent judges at Eton gave me to understand so." Mike stared. "You're what? You?" "I. breathing on a coat-button." "You wrong me. that I had found a haven of rest." said Psmith. But when the cricket season came. "Can you play cricket?" "You have discovered. but it was not to be. You said you only liked watching it. but it was useless. I did think. And in time the thing becomes a habit. I do. _I_ am playing. in a house match"--Psmith's voice took on a deeper tone of melancholy--"I took seven for thirteen in the second innings on a hard wicket. Gone like some beautiful flower that withers in the night. It would have been madness to risk another such shock to my system. Comrade Jackson. and after a while I gave up the struggle. when he finds that his keenest archaeological disciple has deserted. but look here. Imagine my feelings when I found that I was degenerating. I hate to think. However----" ."I don't--What I mean to say--" began Mike. and polishing it with his handkerchief." "Quite right. bar rotting." "You're rotting. where was I? Gone. I mean?" "The last time I played in a village cricket match I was caught at point by a man in braces. Last year. What Comrade Outwood will say. when I came here. "that you fear that you may be in unworthy company----" "Don't be an ass." said Psmith. But at schools where cricket is compulsory you have to overcome your private prejudices." said Psmith. Smith. and drifted with the stream. My nerves are so exquisitely balanced that a thing of that sort takes years off my life." "No." "----Dismiss it. I turn out to-morrow. "If your trouble is. I fought against it." "But you told me you didn't like cricket." "Then why haven't you played?" "Why haven't you?" "Why didn't you come and play for Lower Borlock. into a slow left-hand bowler with a swerve. "my secret sorrow. little by little. I was told that this year I should be a certainty for Lord's.

stating calmly that he had been in the running for a place in the Eton eleven. Mike turned up his coat-collar. and ran back to Outwood's. You won't have to. he and Psmith had been acting on precisely similar motives. He left a note informing him of his willingness to play in the morrow's match. according to their respective natures--on Sedleigh. and here was Psmith. I say--" he stopped--"I'm hanged if I'm going to turn out and field before breakfast to-morrow. wavering on the point of playing for the school. He's sprained his wrist. "By Jove. He's not playing against the M." he said to himself. but useless to anybody who values life.Mike felt as if a young and powerful earthquake had passed. Then in a flash Mike understood. "At this rate." "That's all right. which had been gathering all day. and whether it was that your elbow was particularly tough or his wrist particularly fragile. Here was he. therefore. And they had both worked it off. The whole face of his world had undergone a quick change. The jam Comrade Outwood supplies to us at tea is all right as a practical joke or as a food for those anxious to commit suicide. I don't know." CHAPTER LVI IN WHICH PEACE IS DECLARED "Sprained his wrist?" said Mike. I'll play. the last person whom he would have expected to be a player." he said. Downing's and going to Adair's study. It's nothing bad. If Psmith. A moment later there was a continuous patter. But. "if you're playing. "there won't be a match at all . A spot of rain fell on his hand. Mike found that his late antagonist was out. He was not by nature intuitive. but it'll keep him out of the game to-morrow. Adair won't be there himself. the recalcitrant. Psmith whimsically." On arriving at Mr. Just as he had been disappointed of the captaincy of cricket at Wrykyn. Since the term began. did not consider it too much of a climb-down to renounce his resolution not to play for Sedleigh. Anyhow. as the storm. Apparently one of his efforts got home on your elbow instead of your expressive countenance. as--at the bottom of his heart--he wanted to do.C. "How did he do that?" "During the brawl. I'll go round. Close the door gently after you. what beastly rough luck! I'd no idea. but he read Psmith's mind now. ask him to get me a small pot of some rare old jam and tell the man to chalk it up to me.C." "Not a bad scheme. broke in earnest." "I say. The lock-up bell rang as he went out of the house. so had Psmith been disappointed of his place in the Eton team at Lord's. and if you see anybody downstairs who looks as if he were likely to be going over to the shop. I'll write a note to Adair now. there was nothing to stop Mike doing so. it went. each in his own way--Mike sullenly.

" "Yes. and then the rain began again. Adair fished out his watch." "I hate having to hurry over to school." * * * * * When the weather decides. Might be three." Another silence." "I often do cut it rather fine. shuffling across to school in a Burberry. it does the thing thoroughly. determined way rain has when it means to make a day of "About nine to. to show what it can do in another direction. till there was not a trace of blue to be seen. I should think." "It's only about a couple of minutes from the houses to the school." "So do I. if one didn't hurry." "Beastly nuisance when one does. though. These moments are always difficult." "Oh. "Coming across?" he said awkwardly. They walked on in silence. crawl miserably about the field in couples. while figures in mackintoshes. "It's only about ten to. met Adair at Downing's gate. damp and depressed. Leaden-coloured clouds drifted over the sky. shouldn't you?" "Not much more. It was one of those bad days when one sits in the pavilion. We've got plenty of time. in the gentle. . "Right ho!" said Adair. Mike stopped--he could hardly walk on as if nothing had happened--and looked down at his feet. yes." "Yes." "Beastly. When Mike woke the next morning the world was grey and dripping. Mike. So do I." "Good. after behaving well for some weeks. Three if one didn't hurry. and examined it with an elaborate care born of nervousness. isn't it?" said Mike. with discoloured buckskin boots." "Yes.

." said Adair." "Now that you and Smith are going to play." "Oh. rot. It looks pretty bad. probably. It was my fault." Silence again.. "I don't know. we ought to have a jolly good season. no." "Yes." "Good. "Rotten." "Yes. It was only right at the end. rot." "I bet you I shouldn't. how long will your wrist keep you out of cricket?" "Be all right in a week. doesn't it?" "Rotten. Do you think we shall get a game?" Adair inspected the sky carefully." "I bet you anything you like you would. no." "He must be jolly good if he was only just out of the Eton team last year.. rather not.." "Oh. that's all right. I say. Adair produced his watch once more. Smith turning out to be a cricketer.." "Oh." "Oh." said Mike. "Five to. thanks awfully for saying you'd play. with his height. Jolly hard luck. no. scowling at his toes.." "What's the time?" asked Mike. just before the match. I should think he'd be a hot bowler. thanks." ." "Rummy." "Does it hurt?" "Oh. I say." "We've heaps of time. "I say. that's all right. You'd have smashed me anyhow." "I'd no idea you'd crocked yourself.. Less."Beastly day." "Oh. "awfully sorry about your wrist...

he displayed quite a creditable amount of intuition. shall we?" "Right ho!" Mike cleared his throat. When a Chinaman wishes to pay a compliment. perceived that the words were used purely from politeness."Yes. . that's all right. I know. He was telling me that you thought I'd promised to give Stone and Robinson places in the----" "Oh. Mike. Beastly rough luck having to leave Wrykyn just when you were going to be captain. It was Stone seeming so dead certain that he could play for Lower Borlock if I chucked him from the school team that gave me the idea." "I didn't want to play myself." "No. after the way you've sweated. no. but I wasn't going to do a rotten trick like getting other fellows away from the team. as it were: for now. "I say. rotten little hole. He eluded the pitfall. on the Chinese principle. He might have been misled by Adair's apparently deprecatory attitude towards Sedleigh. and blundered into a denunciation of the place. and come to a small school like this. even if he had. Everybody's as keen as blazes. and I saw that I was an ass to think you could have. "What rot!" he said." "No. he does so by belittling himself and his belongings. I know. no." "It was rotten enough. heaps." "Of course." "Let's stroll on a bit down the road. really. I wouldn't have done it." The excitement of the past few days must have had a stimulating effect on Mike's mind--shaken it up. It was only for a bit. So they ought to be. not playing myself." "Hullo?" "I've been talking to Smith. isn't it?" or words to that effect. for the second time in two days. Smith told me you couldn't have done. "Sedleigh's one of the most sporting schools I've ever come across. "Yes." "He never even asked me to get him a place. fortunately." Adair shuffled awkwardly. Adair had said "a small school like this" in the sort of voice which might have led his hearer to think that he was expected to say." "Oh." "Of course not.

they're worse. so I don't see anything of him all day. Dash this rain. I never thought of it before. As for the schools. but with a small place like this you simply can't get the best teams to give you a match till you've done something to show that you aren't absolute rotters at the game. What about this match? Not much chance of it from the look of the sky at present. "_You_ were all right. They'd simply laugh at you." "It might clear before eleven. and the bowling isn't so bad. If only we could have given this M." . I'm not sure that I care much. Hullo. I got about half a pint down my neck just then." he said. You'd better get changed. I don't know which I'd least soon be. and the humorous side of the thing struck them simultaneously. I wish we could play. You were cricket secretary at Wrykyn last year." "I couldn't eat anything except porridge this morning. It's better than doing Thucydides with Downing. I'm jolly glad no one saw us except Smith. We sha'n't get a game to-day. it's all right for a school like Wrykyn. They began to laugh. who doesn't count." Mike stopped." "I don't know that so much. we'd walk into them. I must have looked rotten. we've got a jolly hot lot. There's quite decent batting all the way through." For the first time during the conversation their eyes met. it might have been easier to get some good fixtures for next season." said Mike. there's the bell." "He isn't a bad sort of chap. As you're crocked. "if that's any comfort to you. lot a really good hammering. with you and Smith. you've struck about the brightest scheme on record." said Adair. when you get to know him. We'd better be moving on. Let's get a match on with Wrykyn. I've never had the gloves on in my life. with a grin. and it would be rather rot playing it without you. My jaw still aches. at the interval." "What! They wouldn't play us." "You've loosened one of my front teeth." "All right. because I'm certain. now that you and Smith are turning out. You see. You've been sweating for years to get the match on."I've always been fairly keen on the place. anyhow. "By jove. We've got math.C. then. of anything like it. and really. till the interval. "What fools we must have looked!" said Adair.C. They probably aren't sending down much of a team. which won't hurt me. and hang about in case. "But I don't suppose I've done anything much. What would you have done if you'd had a challenge from Sedleigh? You'd either have laughed till you were sick. or else had a fit at the mere idea of the thing. except that if one was Downing one could tread on the black-beetle. "I can't have done. Downing or a black-beetle.

regretfully agreed. saying that the Ripton match had had to be scratched owing to illness. 'Psmith is baffled. and went off. approaching Adair. it seemed. The messenger did not know.C. M. after hanging about dismally. the captain. earnestly occupied with a puzzle which had been scattered through the land by a weekly paper. wandering back to the house. At least. A meal on rather a sumptuous scale will be prepared in the study against your return. without looking up. Downing wished to see Mike as soon as he was changed.'" . "By Jove. And they aren't strong this year. Downing. So they've got a vacant date. with a message that Mr. I had a letter from Strachan. leaving Psmith. For the moment I am baffled. Mike. DOWNING MOVES The rain continued without a break all the morning. edge away. they would. seeing that it was out of the question that there should be any cricket that afternoon.C. What do you say?" Adair was as one who has seen a vision. and would be glad if Mike would step across. he worked at it both in and out of school. If he wants you to stop to tea. "this incessant demand for you. lunched in the pavilion at one o'clock. captain. who was fond of simple pleasures in his spare time. To which Adair. All he knew was that the housemaster was in the house." he said at last. We'll smash them. Shall I try them? I'll write to Strachan to-night. moved that this merry meeting be considered off and himself and his men permitted to catch the next train back to town. "but the man who invented this thing was a blighter of the worst type. match was accordingly scratched." Mike changed quickly. and the first Sedleigh _v_. Mr. "I don't wish to be in any way harsh. and whiling the time away with stump-cricket in the changing-rooms. "A nuisance." said Psmith. "What's he want me for?" inquired Mike." said Psmith. though Psmith was at first too absorbed to notice it. The prize for a solution was one thousand pounds. if you like. were met by a damp junior from Downing's. had not confided in him."Yes. I'm pretty sure they would. generally with abusive comments on its inventor. Meanwhile. You come and have a shot. was agitated. "if we only could!" CHAPTER LVII MR. After which the M. The whisper flies round the clubs. That's the worst of being popular.C. and Psmith had already informed Mike with some minuteness of his plans for the disposition of this sum. yesterday. He was still fiddling away at it when Mike returned. The two teams.C. Mike and Psmith.

"My dear man." "Evidence!" said Mike. "Which it was." "Then your chat with Comrade Downing was not of the old-College-chumsmeeting-unexpectedly-after-years'-separation type? What has he been doing to you?" "He's off his nut. it simply means that he hasn't enough evidence to start in on you with? You're all right." "_Did_ you. pretty nearly." said Psmith. "I didn't." "He thinks I did it. . The thing's a stand-off. you know all about that. and now he's dead certain that I painted Sammy." said Mike shortly. But." "I know. "You remember that painting Sammy business?" "As if it were yesterday. he's got enough evidence to sink a ship. He as good as asked me to." "I'm not talking about your rotten puzzle. The man's got stacks of evidence to prove that I did. "No. But after listening to Downing I almost began to wonder if I hadn't."The man's an absolute drivelling ass. He's absolutely sweating evidence at every pore. But what did he do? How did the brainstorm burst? Did he jump at you from behind a door and bite a piece out of your leg. doing the Sherlock Holmes business for all he's worth ever since the thing happened. Give you a nice start in life." "Why? Have you ever shown any talent in the painting line?" "The silly ass wanted me to confess that I'd done it. As far as I can see." "What are you talking about?" "That ass Downing. or did he say he was a tea-pot?" Mike sat down." "Then what are you worrying about? Don't you know that when a master wants you to do the confessing-act. do you mean?" "What on earth would be the point of my doing it?" "You'd gather in a thousand of the best. dash it. he's been crawling about. Jawed a lot of rot about my finding it to my advantage later on if I behaved sensibly." said Mike warmly. I believe he's off his nut." "Such as what?" "It's mostly about my boots. "Me. by the way?" asked Psmith.

So I had to go over to school yesterday in pumps. "What the dickens are you talking about?" "Go on. I don't know where the dickens my other boot has gone.] "It's my boot!" he said at last. just reach up that chimney a bit?" Mike stared. I kicked up against something in the dark when I was putting my bicycle back that night." "I don't know what the game is. Are you particular about dirtying your hands? If you aren't. and reach up the chimney. but how does he drag you into it?" "He swears one of the boots was splashed with paint. "Say on!" "Well." Mike seemed unable to remove his eyes from the boot. Be a man. It's too long to tell you now----" "Your stories are never too long for me. "but--_Hullo_!" "Ah ha!" said Psmith moodily. "all this very sad affair shows the folly of acting from the best motives. . I have landed you. sickening thud. Edmund swears he hasn't seen it. "How on earth did--By Jove! I remember now. And I'm the only chap in the house who hasn't got a pair of boots to show.Why. He babbled to some extent on that point when I was entertaining him. 'tis not blood. [Illustration: MIKE DROPPED THE SOOT-COVERED OBJECT IN THE FENDER." he said mournfully. Psmith listened attentively. Mike dropped the soot-covered object in the fender. and glared at it." And Mike related the events which had led up to his midnight excursion. And what is that red stain across the toe? Is it blood? No." "Then you were out that night?" "Rather. "Comrade Jackson." said Psmith. with a dull. meaning to save you unpleasantness. so he thinks it's me. That's how he spotted me." "Yes." said Mike. if any. but one's being soled. But what makes him think that the boot. It must have been the paint-pot. kneeling beside the fender and groping. "your boot." said Psmith. "It _is_." Psmith sighed. you were with him when he came and looked for them. was yours?" "He's certain that somebody in this house got one of his boots splashed. right in the cart. and it's nowhere about." said Psmith. Get it over. It is red paint. In my simple zeal. Of course I've got two pairs. and is hiding it somewhere. That's what makes it so jolly awkward. "that Comrade Downing and I spent a very pleasant half-hour together inspecting boots. it was like this." "It is true.

and I said I didn't care." "I suppose he's gone to the Old Man about it. and the chap who painted Sammy. collecting a gang. So." "Probably. that was about all. and forgot all about it? No? No. I can't. he's certain to think that the chap he chased. taking it all round. "quite sufficient. I hadn't painted his bally dog. Of course there was no need for him to have the money at all. you see." said Mike. I _am_ in the cart. If I can't produce this boot." asked Psmith. I shall get landed both ways." said Psmith. and go out and watch the dandelions growing." "Possibly."This. I wonder who did!" "It's beastly awkward. too. A very worrying time our headmaster is having. That was why I rang the alarm bell. I take it. was it?" "Yes. So that's why he touched us for our hard-earned. that he is now on the war-path. "I wonder if we could get this boot clean. and he said very well. "was the position of affairs between you and Comrade Downing when you left him? Had you definitely parted brass-rags? Or did you simply sort of drift apart with mutual courtesies?" "Oh." "Well. then. I hope you'll be able to think of something. he must take steps. This needs thought. they're bound to guess why. You see." "What exactly. so to speak. "confirms my frequently stated opinion that Comrade Jellicoe is one of Nature's blitherers. Masters are all whales on confession." "Sufficient. Downing chased me that night. and try to get something out of me. The worst of it is. which was me." he admitted. I will think over the matter. and--well. You had better put the case in my hands. I say. by any chance. then." "_He'll_ want you to confess. "It _is_ a tightish place. too." "I suppose not. in connection with this painful affair." . inspecting it with disfavour." he said. he said I was ill-advised to continue that attitude. are the same." Psmith pondered." "And the result is that you are in something of a tight place. You never know. when Mike had finished. you were playing Round-and-round-the-mulberry-bush with Comrade Downing. in a moment of absent-mindedness. "Not for a pretty considerable time. or some rot. because at about the time the foul act was perpetrated. I suppose not. You're _absolutely_ certain you didn't paint that dog? Didn't do it. What do you think his move will be?" "I suppose he'll send for me. you can't prove an alibi.

" The emissary departed. sir." said Psmith. "what do you wish to see me about?" "It was in connection with the regrettable painting of your dog. at the same dignified rate of progress. who had leaned back in his chair. "Is Mr. "All this is very trying." said Psmith encouragingly. The postman was at the door when he got there. with a gesture of the hand towards the painting.There was a tap at the door." A small boy. Simply stick to stout denial. having handed over the letters in an ultra-formal and professional manner. passed away. heaved himself up again. . apparently absorbed in conversation with the parlour-maid. answered the invitation. Jackson will be with him in a moment. Downing which hung on the wall. "Well. "Tell Willie. "An excellent likeness." said Mr." said Mike to Psmith. "Don't go. "that Mr." Mike got up. caught sight of him. it seemed. he allowed Mike to go on his way. wrapped in thought. who had just been told it was like his impudence. "See how we have trained them. Thence." said Psmith. He was examining a portrait of Mr. Psmith stood by politely till the postman. I say. "Oh. out of the house and in at Downing's front gate. and." "I told you so. Downing shortly. "I'm seeing nothing of you to-day. Psmith was shown into the dining-room on the left of the hall. There was a time when they would have tried to smash in a panel." said Psmith. Don't go in for any airy explanations." He turned to the small boy. and requested to wait. Stout denial is the thing. He was. "Just you keep on saying you're all right." With which expert advice. "the headmaster sent me over to tell you he wants to see you. when Psmith. Downing. "_You're_ all right. sir. carrying a straw hat adorned with the school-house ribbon. "They now knock before entering. Jackson." "Ha!" said Mr. when the housemaster came in. Downing at home?" inquired Psmith. You can't beat it. Come in. then he picked up his hat and moved slowly out of the door and down the passage." he added. Smith. He stood for a moment straightening his tie at the looking-glass." he said. He had not been gone two minutes." suggested Psmith. "Tell him to write.

as he sat and looked at Mike. especially if you really are innocent. Mr. felt awkward. "Not Jackson?" said the headmaster. Downing. Downing."I did it. Is there anything I can----?" "I have discovered--I have been informed--In short. sir." and the chief witness for the prosecution burst in. As for Psmith . Downing to see you. and the headmaster. but it does not lead to anything in the shape of a bright and snappy dialogue between accuser and accused. Jackson. It was a scene which needed either a dramatic interruption or a neat exit speech. unsupported by any weighty evidence." said Psmith. "but----" "Not at all. Smith. "I would not have interrupted you. and conversation showed a tendency to flag. "Mr. The headmaster had opened brightly enough. After the first surprise. CHAPTER LVIII THE ARTIST CLAIMS HIS WORK The line of action which Psmith had called Stout Denial is an excellent line to adopt. but boys nearly always do. is a wearing game to play--the headmaster with astonishment. Downing had laid before him. Masters. except possibly the owner of the dog. sir. do not realise this. the extent to which appearances--" --which was practically going back to the beginning and starting again--when there was a knock at the door. stopping and flicking a piece of fluff off his knee. A voice without said." said Mr. The atmosphere was heavy. with a summary of the evidence which Mr. who sat and looked past him at the bookshelves. what it got was the dramatic interruption. Both Mike and the headmaster were oppressed by a feeling that the situation was difficult. It was a boy in the same house. Mike could not imagine Psmith doing a rotten thing like covering a housemaster's dog with red paint. but anybody. Mike with a feeling of relief--for Stout Denial. As it happened." Mike and the headmaster both looked at the speaker. There is nothing which affords so clear an index to a boy's character as the type of rag which he considers humorous. but after that a massive silence had been the order of the day. "I do not think you fully realise. their feeling had been that it was a scuggish thing to have done and beastly rough luck on the poor brute. There is nothing in this world quite so stolid and uncommunicative as a boy who has made up his mind to be stolid and uncommunicative. as a rule. It was a kid's trick. Between what is a rag and what is merely a rotten trick there is a very definite line drawn. The headmaster was just saying. who committed the--who painted my dog. "No. They had both been amused at the sight of Sammy after the operation. would have thought it funny at first. He could not believe it. any more than he could imagine doing it himself. it was not Jackson." Psmith! Mike was more than surprised.

If Psmith had painted Sammy. It was Adair. when again there was a knock. It seemed as if Fate had a special grudge against his best friends. sir. Adair. All he could think of was that Psmith was done for. sir. certainly. looking at Mr. "Smith!" said the headmaster. He did not make friends very quickly or easily. hardly listening to what Mr. "Yes. Downing leaped in his chair. sir?" he said. Mike's eyes opened to their fullest extent." "It wasn't Jackson who did it. and er--. no." he said. Mike simply did not believe it. it meant that Psmith had broken out of his house at night: and it was not likely that the rules about nocturnal wandering were less strict at Sedleigh than at any other school in the kingdom." Terrific sensation! The headmaster gave a sort of strangled yelp of astonishment. He sat there. Well. Jackson." Mike was conscious of a feeling of acute depression." "Yes. "It was about Sammy--Sampson. if possible. worse than he had felt when Wyatt had been caught on a similar occasion. "Come in." said the headmaster. what did you wish to say. "May I go." said the Head. with calm triumph. to know that he himself was cleared of the charge. Downing was saying." said Mr. tell Smith that I should like to see him. sir. Downing. Adair. "that the boy himself came to me a few moments ago and confessed. Downing was talking rapidly to the headmaster. So Mr. sir. "What makes you think that?" "Simply this. we know--.having done it. Downing. Adair?" Adair was breathing rather heavily. as if he had been running. Mike felt. with a curious feeling of having swallowed a heavy weight. "Adair!" . who was nodding from time to time. "Ah." "No. "Certainly. Mike took advantage of a pause to get up. "Oh. though he had always had scores of acquaintances--and with Wyatt and Psmith he had found himself at home from the first moment he had met them. Mr. Downing----" "It was Dunster. This was bound to mean the sack. Mr. It did not make him in the least degree jubilant. or even thankful." He had reached the door. if you are going back to your house.

Downing snorted. Downing's voice was thunderous. It was a . had Psmith asserted that he himself was the culprit? Why--why anything? He concentrated his mind on Adair as the only person who could save him from impending brain-fever. and substituted for his brain a side-order of cauliflower. His brain was swimming. if Dunster had really painted the dog. I got a letter from him only five minutes ago." "Did you say anything to him about your having received this letter from Dunster?" "I gave him the letter to read. Then I met Smith outside the house. "But Adair. He has left the school. and he told me that Mr. Well. perhaps. "Yes. in which he said that he had painted Sammy--Sampson. the dog. had played a mean trick on him. He rolled about. But that Adair should inform him. sir. who." "He was down here for the Old Sedleighans' match." Mr. two minutes after Mr. That Mike. I am glad to find that the blame cannot be attached to any boy in the school." "And that was the night the--it happened?" "Yes. sir?" "What--_what_ do you mean?" "It _was_ Dunster. sir. "I do not understand how this thing could have been done by Dunster. Why Dunster. And why. sir. Downing." "_Laughed!_" Mr. but he wasn't in the house. I am sorry that it is even an Old Boy. and that. I tried to find Mr. of all people? Dunster. sir. Downing had gone over to see you. sir.There was almost a wail in the headmaster's voice. had left the school at Christmas. for a rag--for a joke. Downing. as he didn't want any one here to get into a row--be punished for it. sir." said the headmaster. sir. that Psmith. "Adair!" "Yes. and that the real criminal was Dunster--it was this that made him feel that somebody. was curious. but not particularly startling. I'd better tell Mr. The situation had suddenly become too much for him. He stopped the night in the village." "Smith told you?" said Mr. was guiltless. despite the evidence against him. sir." "And what was his attitude when he had read it?" "He laughed. Downing at once. in the words of an American author. he remembered dizzily. "Yes. sir. should be innocent." "I see. too. Downing's announcement of Psmith's confession.

If he did not do it. "I shall write to him. Downing. as the butler appeared." "If you please." said Mr.foolish." "If it was really Dunster who painted my dog." "In the hall!" "Yes. sir. He advanced into the room with a gentle half-smile which suggested good-will to all men. "It is certainly a thing that calls for explanation." "The sergeant. "kindly go across to Mr. but. He arrived soon after Mr. Adair. I suppose." The old Etonian entered as would the guest of the evening who is a few moments late for dinner. Barlow. sir. sir." "Thank you." He dropped into a deep arm-chair (which both Adair and Mike had avoided in favour of less luxurious seats) with the confidential cosiness of a fashionable physician calling on a patient. sir?" "Sit down." There followed one of the tensest "stage waits" of Mike's experience. He was cheerful. feels that some slight apology is expected from him. but it is not as bad as if any boy still at the school had broken out of his house at night to do it. Outwood's house and inform Smith that I should like to see him. Smith. . "It is still raining. pressing a bell." "H'm. the silence was quite solid. The door was opened. sir. A very faint drip-drip of rain could be heard outside the window. Downing. Barlow. Ask him to step up. though sure of his welcome." said the headmaster. and there was not even a clock in the room to break the stillness with its ticking. Smith. what possible motive could he have had for coming to me of his own accord and deliberately confessing?" "To be sure. Smith is waiting in the hall. "told me that the boy he saw was attempting to enter Mr." said the headmaster." said Mr. but slightly deprecating. Nobody seemed to have anything to say. sir. saying that he would wait." he observed." "Another freak of Dunster's. Presently there was a sound of footsteps on the stairs. sir. discreditable thing to have done. "I cannot understand the part played by Smith in this affair. Outwood's house. while it lasted. "Mr. Mr. as you would probably wish to see him shortly." "Yes. between whom and himself time has broken down the barriers of restraint and formality. He gave the impression of one who." he said. It was not long. "You wished to see me.

It is one of the most interesting problems with which anthropologists are confronted. with the impersonal touch of one lecturing on generalities. Then he went on." he replied sadly. sir. The headmaster tapped nervously with his foot on the floor. as a child.Mr. "I should like to see you alone for a moment. Psmith leaned back comfortably in his chair. like a reservoir that has broken its banks. there was silence." "It was absolutely untrue?" "I am afraid so. "Er--Smith. He paused again. Downing might I trouble--? Adair. when a murder has been committed. sir." "What!" cried the headmaster. "Smith. "how frequently." proceeded Psmith placidly. but have you--er. "It is remarkable. "The curse of the present age. "Smith. When he and Psmith were alone. any--er--severe illness? Any--er--_mental_ illness?" "No. sir. sir. Human nature----" The headmaster interrupted. Have you no explanation to offer? What induced you to do such a thing?" Psmith sighed softly." "Sir?" The headmaster seemed to have some difficulty in proceeding. "Smith. let us say." "But." . I do not for a moment wish to pain you. do you remember ever having had. "----This is a most extraordinary affair. Psmith bent forward encouragingly. "Er--Smith. Smith--" began the headmaster. one finds men confessing that they have done it when it is out of the question that they should have committed it." "Yes." he said. Downing burst out. Mr. Jackson." He made a motion towards the door." Psmith turned his gaze politely in the housemaster's direction. you came to me a quarter of an hour ago and told me that it was you who had painted my dog Sampson. "The craze for notoriety.

at last." said Psmith." * * * * * Mike and Adair were waiting for him outside the front door. "I did not mean to suggest--quite so. sir." There was a pause... "Jackson happened to tell me that you and Mr. "Not a bad old sort." He held out his hand." "I think you are existing between can return to it say.. and then I tore myself away. sir.. We later. sir. sir. Good-night. "Well. For the moment. sir. Of course. I must drop in from time to time and cultivate him." . "Of course. Downing's dog. Smith?" "I should not like it to go any further." said the headmaster hurriedly. of sometimes apt to forget. then. the headmaster found Psmith's man-to-man attitude somewhat disconcerting. it was like this. quite so. "What's he done?" "Nothing. if you do not wish it." said Adair. let me hear what you wish to course. Smith." "I will certainly respect any confidence----" "I don't want anybody to know." said Psmith meditatively to himself." "Well. "By no means a bad old sort.. of course. Smith. and there seemed some danger of his being expelled.."There is no--forgive me if I am touching on a sad subject--there is no--none of your near relatives have ever suffered in the way I--er--have described?" "There isn't a lunatic on the list. "You _are_ the limit. Downing seemed to think he had painted Mr. You are a curious boy. This is strictly between ourselves. "but. but he said nothing. "It was a very wrong thing to do. That was the whole thing. Smith. Dunster writing created a certain amount of confusion. We had a very pleasant chat. so I thought it wouldn't be an unsound scheme if I were to go and say I had done it. "Well?" said Mike. "Good-night. sir----" Privately. that you confessed to an act which you had not committed purely from some sudden impulse which you cannot explain?" "Strictly between ourselves." said Psmith cheerfully." said Psmith. I shall. tell nobody. as he walked downstairs. Smith. You think. the proper relations boy and--Well. never mind that for the present." said the headmaster.

"what really made you tell Downing you'd done it?" "The craving for----" "Oh. In a way one might have said that the game was over. for it was a one day match." said he. "And it was jolly good of you. "you wrong me. CHAPTER LIX SEDLEIGH _v_." said Mike suddenly. There is a certain type of . chuck it." said Psmith. They walked on towards the houses." "Well. I should think they're certain to. Nerves lose more school matches than good play ever won. all the same." "Oh."Do you mean to say he's not going to do a thing?" "Not a thing. I'm surprised at you." Psmith's expression was one of pain. I never thought to hear those words from Michael Jackson. You aren't talking to the Old Man now." "Well. you're a marvel." "And give Comrade Downing. and Wrykyn. You make me writhe. Psmith." said Mike. It is men like him who make this Merrie England of ours what it is. "Jackson's going to try and get Wrykyn to give us a game. when you see him. WRYKYN The Wrykyn match was three-parts over. "I'll write to Strachan to-night about that match." Psmith moaned. who had led on the first innings. had only to play out time to make the game theirs. "Good-night. Adair. and things were going badly for Sedleigh. too. I hope the dickens they'll do it." said Adair. Sedleigh were paying the penalty for allowing themselves to be influenced by nerves in the early part of the day. I believe you did. "my very best love. and that Sedleigh had lost." said Mike obstinately. "They've got a vacant date. I believe it was simply to get me out of a jolly tight corner. "My dear Comrade Jackson." "What's that?" asked Psmith. as the latter started to turn in at Downing's." said Mike." said Adair. "By the way." * * * * * "I say. Psmith thanked him courteously.

Three consecutive balls from Bruce he turned into full-tosses and swept to the leg-boundary. and that on their present form Sedleigh ought to win easily. the bulwark of the side. so Adair had chosen to bat first. and . had been beating Ripton teams and Free Foresters teams and M. but he was undoubtedly the right man for a crisis like this. Seven wickets were down for thirty when Psmith went in. July the twentieth. The teams they played were the sort of sides which the Wrykyn second eleven would play. It was unfortunate that Adair had won the toss. had entered upon this match in a state of the most azure funk. Psmith. Ten minutes later the innings was over. and from whom. Experience counts enormously in school matches. A school eleven are always at their worst and nerviest before lunch. as he did repeatedly. reached such a high standard that this probably meant little. and he had fallen after hitting one four.C. Unless the first pair make a really good batsman who is a gift to any bowler when he once lets his imagination run away with him. Taking into consideration the state of nerves the team was in. and the others. and Mike. playing back to half-volleys. Adair did not suffer from panic. going in first with Barnes and taking first over. He had had no choice but to take first innings. for seventy-nine. the Wrykyn slow bowler. had played inside one from Bruce. and the wicket was slow and treacherous. but then Wrykyn cricket. with his score at thirty-five. and had been caught at short slip off his second ball. who had been sitting on the splice in his usual manner. the man who had been brought up on Wrykyn bowling. teams packed with county men and sending men to Oxford and Cambridge who got their blues as freshmen. but his batting was not equal to his bowling. Sedleigh. he raised the total to seventy-one before being yorked. the team had been all on the jump. The weather had been bad for the last week. several of them. Stone. lost Strachan for twenty before lunch. Ever since Mike had received Strachan's answer and Adair had announced on the notice-board that on Saturday. Sedleigh had gone on to the field that morning a depressed side. Sedleigh would play Wrykyn. on Mike's authority. The team listened. as a rule. The subtlety of the bowlers becomes magnified. declined to hit out at anything. crawled to the wickets. a collapse almost invariably ensues. and he used it. and. Robinson. Psmith had always disclaimed any pretensions to batting skill. but were not comforted.C. assisted by Barnes. with the exception of Adair. Mike. with Barnes not out sixteen. However weak Wrykyn might be--for them--there was a very firm impression among the members of the Sedleigh first eleven that the other school was quite strong enough to knock the cover off _them_. Whereas Wrykyn. that Wrykyn were weak this season. That put the finishing-touch on the panic. Wrykyn might be below their usual strength. Wrykyn had then gone in. He had an enormous reach. and were clean bowled. from time immemorial. all quite decent punishing batsmen when their nerves allowed them to play their own game. Even on their own ground they find the surroundings lonely and unfamiliar. at least a fifty was expected--Mike. whatever might happen to the others. It was useless for Adair to tell them. To-day the start had been gruesome beyond words. It was likely to get worse during the day. this in itself was a calamity. Sedleigh had never been proved.

all but a dozen runs. Wrykyn decided that it was not good enough. and refused to hit at the bad. at any rate. if they could knock Bruce off. This was the state of the game at the point at which this chapter opened. And when. it looked as if Sedleigh had a chance again. It was on Mike's suggestion that Psmith and himself went in first. skied one to Strachan at cover. They were playing all the good balls. Adair declared the innings closed. The deficit had been wiped off. As is usual at this stage of a match. Mike knew the limitations of the Wrykyn bowling. and lashed out stoutly. was getting too dangerous. and they felt capable of better things than in the first innings. and then Psmith made a suggestion which altered the game completely. The score was a hundred and twenty when Mike. and the hands of the clock stood at ten minutes past six. and he was convinced that. proceeded to play with caution. Seventeen for three. with an hour all but five minutes to go. and which he hit into the pavilion. So Drummond and Rigby. which was Psmith's. having another knock. This was better than Sedleigh had expected. "Why don't you have a shot this end?" he said to Adair. and by that time Mike was set and in his best vein. And they had hit. But Adair and Psmith. they felt. It doesn't help my . especially Psmith. A quarter past six struck. At first it looked as if they meant to knock off the runs. the next pair. Wrykyn started batting at twenty-five minutes to six. at fifteen. restored to his proper frame of mind. with sixty-nine to make if they wished to make them. and finished up his over with a c-and-b. but there seemed no chance of getting past the batsmen's defence. Seventeen for three had become twenty-four for three. his slows playing havoc with the tail. always provided that Wrykyn collapsed in the second innings. "There's a spot on the off which might help you a lot. helped by the wicket. who had just reached his fifty. The time was twenty-five past five.finally completed their innings at a quarter to four for a hundred and thirty-one. And it seemed to Mike that the wicket would be so bad then that they easily might. as they were crossing over. but it was a comfort. and after him Robinson and the rest. who had taken six wickets. So he and Psmith had gone in at four o'clock to hit. two runs later. And when Stone came in. Psmith got the next man stumped. when Psmith was bowled. But. He treated all the bowlers alike. At least eight of the team had looked forward dismally to an afternoon's leather-hunting. it might be possible to rattle up a score sufficient to give them the game. Changes of bowling had been tried. and an hour and ten minutes during which to keep up their wickets if they preferred to take things easy and go for a win on the first innings. It would be too much to say that Sedleigh had any hope of pulling the game out of the fire. As Mike reached the pavilion. and the collapse ceased. for Strachan forced the game from the first ball. Adair bowled him. had never been easy. You can break like blazes if only you land on it. their nervousness had vanished.

Sedleigh won by thirty-five runs with eight minutes in hand. "Still. Sedleigh had been lethargic and without hope. "I say. Five minutes before. There were twenty-five minutes to go." "He bowled awfully well. That's what Adair was so keen on. he walked more rapidly than a batsman usually walks to the crease. was a shade too soon." said Mike. "he was going about in a sort of trance. After that the thing was a walk-over. Sedleigh was on top again." said Psmith. They can get on fixtures with decent . * * * * * Psmith and Mike sat in their study after lock-up. I don't wish to cast a gloom over this joyful occasion in any way. is to get the thing started. Now there was a stir and buzz all round the ground. while the wicket-keeper straightened the stumps again. and the tail." "I suppose they will. I shall have left. he's satisfied. but you say Wrykyn are going to give Sedleigh a fixture again next year?" "Well?" "Well. Adair was absolutely accurate as a bowler. playing against Wrykyn. Wrykyn will swamp them. and he had dropped his first ball right on the worn patch. when Adair took the ball from him. Two minutes later Drummond's successor was retiring to the pavilion. Psmith clean bowled a man in his next over.leg-breaks a bit." "Yes. the great thing." "When I last saw Comrade Adair." said Psmith. "I feel like a beastly renegade. The next man seemed to take an age coming out. hitting out. because they won't hit at them. got to it as he was falling. beaming vaguely and wanting to stand people things at the shop. Adair's a jolly good sort. The captain of Outwood's retired to short leg with an air that suggested that he was glad to be relieved of his prominent post. have you thought of the massacre which will ensue? You will have left. you see. demoralised by the sudden change in the game. Incidentally." Barnes was on the point of beginning to bowl. diving to the right. Still. and chucked it up. Now Sedleigh has beaten Wrykyn. collapsed uncompromisingly. and Mike. and it'll make him happy for weeks. The batsman. There is nothing like a couple of unexpected wickets for altering the atmosphere of a game. Adair's third ball dropped just short of the spot. and five wickets were down. The next moment Drummond's off-stump was lying at an angle of forty-five. The ball hummed through the air a couple of feet from the ground in the direction of mid-off. Adair will have left. I'm glad we won. discussing things in general and the game in particular. As a matter of fact.

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